Politics is not, and never will be, the answer


I stopped using Facebook on June 11 this year. I didn't flounce off and cancel my account – it's not that simple. Extricating yourself from Facebook is a bit like leaving the EU. When you try, you discover it's worked its way into far more areas of life than you first realised. I decided that I would stop posting updates and commenting on anyone else's thread. I would still browse it from time to time. Looking, but no touching.

The reason is obvious: the referendum and discussions thereof. It's been horrible. Before the vote, it was partly intense debate, but mostly name-calling, finger-pointing and suspecting the motives of others – hardly an invitation to engage. Some took the bait, and most probably regretted it.

The day before the vote wasn't too bad. Everyone, including Brexiteers, thought the vote was going to be for Remain, and so we all held hands and stressed the importance and privilege of voting and the value of democracy. This bonhomie continued onto the day of the vote itself. Then past midnight, the mood ebbed away, until about 3am when it vanished. Social media got nasty again.

Except this time it was worse. Shock, disbelief, despair and demands for Brexiteers to 'explain themselves'. The pound crashed and suddenly everyone was conveniently interested in the value of currency. The FTSE dipped, before finishing the month of June at its highest level for 2016.

But the attention of the media quickly shifted away from the City of London with its boring numbers and graphs which we don't understand. Following the resignation of the PM and a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn, there was a House-of-Cards-meets-Game-of-Thrones drama unfolding in Westminster. One half expected to see Theresa May fly down the Thames on a dragon while Boris lay in wait with his water-cannon. All the while, social media was screaming, snarking and carping at everyone and everything under the sun. And still is.

Boris serves as a useful example. (He's got to be good for something, right? You see, there I go. This is very easy.) He was hated by some for opportunistically backing Brexit because he wanted to be Prime Minister. And people would hate that. He was hated for winning the vote. And now he's hated by the same people who always hated him, for not standing to be PM.

Twitter has been awash with this stuff. It's very easy to hate in 140 characters. On Facebook, people are a bit more subtle about it. At the moment the rage is more focussed on a demand for leaders. We want people to hate. Who will be Prime Minister? Who will lead Her Majesty's Opposition? Get on the stage so we can hate you.

It makes one wonder why anyone would want to be a political leader. We patronise politicians on their way up, we mock them while they're in office, and we laugh at them when they fall. It's vile. And if there's one thing that we learned from Jo Cox's horrific death, it's that we learn nothing from tragic events. Resolutions to have renewed respect for our leaders didn't last a week.

The insatiable demand for leadership goes on, prowling around looking for someone else to devour. Why focus on the fact that Stephen Crabb looks a bit like Russell Crowe, when you can scream that he thinks gay people can be cured? Hate him for that. Because he obviously hates certain people. There's no room for nuance in 140 characters.

Why are we so angry? It seems that we are so obsessed with politics, power, and government that we assume normal life cannot function without politicians being in power. This is not so. In parliamentary year 2014-15, the House of Commons sat for less than 1,000 hours. Somehow, the nation muddled through for the other 7,000 hours.

We don't help ourselves. In summer silly season, tabloids report that the PM is on holiday and ask, "Yikes! Who's running the country now?" Then they search Getty images for pictures of the idiot-du-jour, George Osborne, Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg or John Prescott, looking inept. As if the PM actually runs the country.

Fun fact: Belgium had no elected government for more than 589 days. After an election in June 2010, they simply couldn't agree on a coalition government. And the deadlock lasted until October the following year when a government was agreed, but not properly formed until December. I've not been there, but I hear Belgium, a proud developed country of 11m+ people, is not a festering, smoking crater of misery and despair.

Politics is useful, and necessary. But it is not the answer. In the month of June, social media has revealed that people who consider themselves good, decent, liberal or progressive are a thinly coated hodgepodge of simmering rage, snide resentment and tribal self-righteousness that no amount of politics and law-making can ever fix. The law will not fix the human heart. We can change the law all we want. It won't make us good. It will just make us criminals.

The answer to our mean-spirited sanctimony is not politics or the state. And it's certainly not "the markets" although they too have their place. The answer is Jesus. If that assertion makes me sound like a sap or a simpleton, then so be it. I am a sap. I am a simpleton.

If you take even a brief look at Jesus, or take the time to read one account of his life, you will find exactly the kind of leader that we would never dare to dream of. Yet he is one we can believe in. He is not a hypocrite or an opportunist, or someone who leaves the dirty work to others. He does all the things we want our politicians to do. He is all the things we want them to be.

Despite his astonishing life of revolutionary love, here's what the 'good people' of the day did when he healed the sick and raised the dead: "The Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus." Everyone else watched, having voted for Barrabas. They would've tweeted about it if they could. I'm done with good people. Let's have Jesus.

James Cary is a comedy writer (Bluestone 42, Miranda) and author of Death By Civilisation.