So I've had to do a lot of explaining, recently.
First I had to explain, a few months ago, that we now had a new Prime Minister without having had an election.
That involved explaining what a Prime Minister was, how they were not called a President, and how they are different from a King. I had to explain how we are governed not by one person, but by a majority political party. Then I explained that the Prime Minister was the leader of this party and that at any time, the party could choose to change who their leader was.
That was tiring!
Then came the election. Which was two days ago. In the last month I've had to explain what an election was. How you had to vote not for a Prime Minister, but for a party. Clear enough, but then I had to explain that you did actually have vote for a person, someone from the party of your choice who represents your area.
Because, I explained, we live in a certain electoral area called C********* ("But Mum, we don't live in C*********! We live in 'Pretty Coastal Town near Sydney'! So confusing!). Ah, yes, I said, We do live in 'Pretty Coastal Town near Sydney,' but we also live in the area called C********* which we never think of, or identify with, unless it's Election Day. (So it's kind of a wasted name, if you ask me, and maybe they should have not spent so much time giving it a lovely name like C********* and just called it "Zone X." Or something.)
Anyway, I said, you have to vote for the person from the party of your choice who represents your area. And then, if more people from one party are voted in than another, their party is the winner.
I thought I was doing pretty well. I think some of it went Weeeeeeee all the way over my little ones' heads, but some of it got in. And at least I was following it enough to go out there like a grown-up and vote my little heart out. One of the cooler moments was when my girl asked me on Election Day, "Mum, do you like voting?" and I got to say, "Yes, it makes me feel like I have a little bit of a say in how the country is run." (Aw, that's sweet, yes?)
But now we've got this thing called a Hung Parliament. At least I think we do. The numbers aren't all in, but so far it sounds like we've got about the same number of one major party as the next. There's no clear winner. This hasn't happened since World War Two, they say.
So now I think the Independent politicians and Smaller Political Parties are going to be wooed by the two Big Parties to align themselves with one Party or Other. This is called the "Two Party Preferred" system, and that will decide who runs this country for the next 2-3 years. At least I think it will.
My head hurts!
So, I've been trying to explain it. I've talked about the smaller parties, and named as many ones as I can: the Greens, the Democrats, the Socialists, the Family First party, the Sex Party (What?!? said my kids), the Party for Non-Custodial Parents, and the Shooters' Party (which I'm not sure still exists. The kids said, "Who are they?" and I had to fudge who I thought they were. Probably totally misrepresented the poor dears).
Plus there's all the other parties I can't remember, or have never heard of. (I don't read the whole ballot paper! I mostly put my numbers here, here, and here).
Anyway. Maybe I was tired from all the explaining. Maybe I just have never been big on Politics (find it a little slimy, all the jockeying for popularity, the petty bickering, and the lying), so have bleeped out anything to do with Politics for the most part. But as I was explaining all this Stuff to my kids, I suddenly realised I didn't even know section/side of Parliament we were voting for. I knew there were two sections, but I suddenly didn't know their names, or which side was involved in this election.
I realised I barely knew my Parliament at all. After all this time together…we were strangers!
So I said to my husband, "I think there's a Senate, right? But what's the other one called?"
And my husband, who's American and doesn't get to vote here, said, "Um, well in America there's a Senate, and a House of Representatives."
And I said, "Yeah, ok. I think maybe it's called the House of Representatives here too, but I don't know which lot we're voting for! I don't think I ever learned that! Or I learned it and forgot…How is it that I don't know this?"
And my son, who'd been walking along listening (and has been paying attention this whole time to the whole Election Business), shook his head and said:
"Mum, you should have been homeschooled."
Don't you think?