Well now. That… that was really something.
When I volunteered to carry on in Cate’s name, I thought I knew what I was letting myself in for. Cate made it look easy, but then, I saw only the democracy sausages, not their making.
Making them is much more difficult than I realised. Writing isn’t that hard, reading isn’t that hard (a few grammar challenged sites to the contrary), but thinking, analysing, comparing – and most of all, trying to do so from an assumption of good faith, if not actual objectivity1I don’t actually believe that objectivity exists, anywhere, so I don’t beat myself up about that – that, friends and neighbours, is hard work.
I’ve learned a lot from doing this. About how to do it, and how to do it better next time (and yes, there will be a next time). About myself, which was a surprise. And I’ve learned a better appreciation of my dear friend Catherine, too.
I mean, I’d read almost every post she ever made on Cate Speaks, but I read them as they were published. It’s when you sit down and read multiple posts about the same parties over the span of a decade, that you see not just how the parties change over time, but how the person writing them did. It should come as little surprise that Catherine improved as a writer over this time, or that she took this work more seriously the more she did it.
But I hadn’t noticed, until the contrast was right there in front of me, the growing sophistication and subtlety of Catherine’s perceptions over the years. One understands these things in a general way, that we change as the years pass, hopefully into a better version of ourselves. But in reading four posts about the same party written a few years apart each time, that understanding is no longer general, but specific, almost quantifiable.
Writing these posts, carrying on this important work, has been a privilege, a responsibility, and an honour. Thank you to each and every one of you who read these, who posted comments, or sent links to friends, or let us know how much you appreciated this work. We didn’t do it for the praise, but it’s still nice to receive it.
The other thing I didn’t foresee going into this was that it was running headlong into my grief at Catherine’s loss. I felt her presence and her absence constantly. For the first week or so, I wanted to ask her if I was doing it right approximately every half hour. Let me tell you, it’s not imposter syndrome when you actually are replacing someone.
That’s all I have for now. See you back here when the Victorian State Election draws closer, and thank you for your time. It means the world to me.
Thank you too
That is a very articulate and heartfelt post. It is a really amazing series of work that you are picking up. With each election, there will be more different parties and candidates, and more people looking up who to vote for. Keeping up the blog work is really helpful and important! Analysis can be hard work, but I think you all did really well. It is natural to bring your own perspectives and values, but these were clearly shown to the reader, and did not take away from giving a fair description of the different parties.
I also started election blogging this election (making policy comparisons for the Unimelb student magazine Farrago), which I found to be a rewarding experience – and also looking forward to the Victorian state election!
Thank you Benjamin, for this and all your other thoughtful posts. And if your own posts are to be found on the web, please drop us the link and we’ll add it here.
Hey thank you. I enjoyed being part of the community and being engaged. 🙂
For sure! Probably the easiest link is this one: https://farragomagazine.com/list-news/
My articles were the Farrago Policy Comparisons.
I’ve added your posts (and Thalia’s too) on our Links page 🙂
You have created something lasting to be proud of. You’ve done it in public. And now you’ve given us something to reflect on ourselves too. Thank you.
Getting used to it being in public was one of the weirdest bits. I freaked out the first time an actual candidate contacted us. I have to say though, all the ones who did were polite and respectful, which is a better experience than I feared would be the case.
Thank you both for undertaking this. I tried briefly to track this year’s candidates but a friend told me about this and it was excellent.
Glad we were of service 🙂
Thank you so much for all the time and thought that went into this site. It is deeply appreciated. This year my children are on the internet often enough to have noticed UAP advertising (who could escape it?) and asked questions. Thanks to this site (and the excellent graphics on abc.net.au) I think I did ok at explaining our democratic systems and political parties. The kids were interested enough to want to know the results of the election until every seat was decided, and be delighted at how many greens were elected. And we even touched on what abortion and euthanasia are. Eldest daughter immediately leapt in and explained why it would be good for people to have those options (she had chosen to be with me when our elderly cat was euthanased a few weeks ago, so she had thought about it a lot). So thanks, you have helped make some tricky concepts easier to talk about, and bringing politics more relevant and less muddy.
I’m so glad we were of help, and delighted to hear how engaged your children are. Hopefully, we’ll still be doing this and they’ll still find us useful when they’re old enough to vote themselves 🙂
That is beautiful.
My friendship with Cate was more musical than political, but I always turned to her posts for guidance at election time, & it is comforting to know that the tradition will live on. Thanks Loki.
Thank you, Judy. We’ll do our best.
Thanks for your hard work, both of you. It’s a beautiful way to carry on her legacy, and a public service to boot.
It’s*still* hard to believe she’s gone.
I was listening to the podcast Catherine did a few months back last night, and in it, Lois Bujold talks about the afterlife in the world of the Five Gods, and it was a comforting thought that Catherine might forever be joined in ecstatic divine union with one of those gods (I assume the Mother).
Thank you so much for your work on this, it’s an invaluable service to the community and I appreciate you.
A belated thank you to the wonderful work you’ve done this election, and a worthy continuance of the fantastic work Cate did. I’ve read Cate’s blog from the beginning, and found it very useful to compare her thoughts of the party policies to my own. She did such a meticulous job at representing them, that on a couple of elections when I was very ill, I skipped doing my own research, and just read her blog! I’m so grateful for the hard work you did. Sorting out my vote while being the sole carer for a small child was much easier with having this blog to refer to.
I’m sorry and I hope it was cathartic in some ways to go through the process.
It’s difficult, because I also kept wanting to reach out to her, to ask her opinion about a candidate, to confirm I was remembering a detail correctly, and to laugh at the re-emergence of certain serial candidates. But of course I couldn’t – all there was were her records.