09 September 2013

True Story : I Love Election Day

The weekend made me realise I freaking love election day. I mean, I really, really love it (and not just because of the sausage sizzles). I realise I may have just lost half my audience right there, and I also realise the other half that's still with me is rolling their eyes and thinking 'ughhh...I though we'd finally stopped talking about the damn election.' But I'm writing this anyway. You can relax a little - this isn't about the results (if you want to know my feelings on those have a look at my Twitter). No, it's about the day and the process. Actually, it's kind of about politics as a whole. 

Let's back up a bit. I grew up in a very politically aware household. My folks were involved; passionate about issues. There were posters and badges and marches, and late night arguments fuelled by cheap red wine. (Clarification - the adults were drinking the wine and arguing, I was dozing in the background.)

I remember the build up to state and federal elections, the excitement on the day. I remember handing out how to vote cards at our local polling station. That's me down there, barefoot, aged about 6 or 7, and rocking some 80s fashion (I wish I still had that tee!). I remember election nights, done Don's Party style. The gathering of friends, the commiserating and ranting when 'your side' lost. The relief when they won. Politics was kind of our football. I was pretty young, so all of this was a bit in the background, but I remember it. And I think it helped to give me a lifelong interest in politics, and a lifelong love of election day. 

I love the whole ritual of election day. Strolling past the how to vote people and ignoring them all (because I've done my own research, thanks). I love the lining up (no, really!), finding my name, carefully filling out the papers (I voted below the line this year), and, best of all, putting my precious vote in the ballot box. I've always lived in a very safe not-the-person-I'd-vote-for electorate, so you could argue my vote is pointless, meaningless. But...it makes no difference to how I feel about it. I think Leunig summed it up best. (Also, speaking of putting your vote in the ballot box, did you see this? Lovely, yes?). 

And then you have election night itself, featuring the astounding Antony Green, of course. If you're a people watcher like me, then election night coverage delivers the best people watching you could ever hope for. Think about it - these candidates have poured their heart and soul into something they believe in, and now the public has passed judgement. And then - after sleepless nights, a frantic day, and probably a red wine or two too many (we're looking at you Malcolm Turnbull) - they're expected to go on live TV and not cock it all up. It's like a really real, really big, reality TV show. No scripts or 'personalities', just jubilation and brave fronts; flushed faces, fumbles, photobombs; passion and dissapointment. These are people at their most vulnerable, most proud, most heartbroken, perplexed, honest. 

And when it all starts going sour that's when the fun really begins. That's when people start pointing fingers, apportioning blame. It's not election night without a losing candidate having a rant about how their own party screwed it all up. 

And I know that some of you out there are thinking - but I hate politics! Well, firstly, thanks for reading this far, that was unexpected. And secondly, you don't hate politics, I promise. You just don't like certain politicians. 

I'm not going to tell you you should like politics because it's good for you, because it impacts you. No, you should like politics because it's life, amplified. It's Shakespeare and Game of Thrones and America's Next Top Model and that niggle with your mother in law. It also can be, should be, about belief and vision and thoughtful analysis. About good things, noble things, smart things. About making the world a slightly better place. Politics says - I have faith, I believe in this place; I believe it can be better than it is. You may not agree with the how, but surely you'd agree with the why. And how can you not get excited about that?


  1. Ah em you've made me cry and summed up why I get so frustrated with people who say
    'I don't like politics' I always think of the women who fought so hard for our right to vote and people around the world who risk their lives to be able to cast that precious vote

  2. Haha! I have to admit I love election day to Emily..

    After voting in Canberra and Brisbane, where it was actually a little more nail biting to see the result it was a bit of a downer this election to be out in the country where it's all national party, national party, national party. I did and always do however, take great pleasure in numbering everything below the line.

    Turnbull was pretty funny. :)

  3. Love this post Emily, and so beautifully written.

    Election day has always been important to me (most especially since I've been able to vote). While I'm disappointed in the outcome of the recent federal election, watching the events of the day unfold on election night is fascinating.

    You slayed me with that final paragraph. I could not agree more. :)


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