Why do we hate politicians?

“As Hobbes observes, all mental pleasure exists in being able to compare oneself with others to one’s own advantage… Nothing is of greater moment to a man than the gratification of his own vanity.” —Arthur Schopenhauer

“It is so depressing to think that we suffer because we are fools; yet, taking mankind in the mass, that is the truth. For this reason, no political party can acquire any driving force except through hatred; it must hold up someone to obloquy.” —Bertrand Russell

“Political lies can be dangerous, but what is more dangerous is the irrational bias against politics and elected politicians.”
“It must be something to do with us that we hate those we elect.” —Steve Richards

Were politics to be personified, it would be a manic depressive. It would be a chaotic cauldron of a human being that would quickly drown in its own bile and introspective rage, were it not scornfully spitting it out over all and sundry in an insomnious fountain of vitriol.

The problem, you see, is this: politics is a bubbling sea of calumniation, spiced with malice and channelled into avenues of blame and bavardage predetermined to shirk, side-step and shun anything whose consequences could be directly correlated with one’s own decisions. Opinions, opinions everywhere / Nor any courage to commit.

The all-too-observable sordid governing structure, as one would undeniably hope for from any mature democracy, is a very public mirror of human society: groupthink objurgation and a desire to take revenge for hopes unfulfilled and lives wasted.

This is why we hate politicians more than we hate the other groups of people upon whom we’ve chosen to bestow power and wealth in an amount that every non-thinking person revels in resenting. The impressive inventiveness with which a football fan can produce profanities to describe their disgust with that which they follow so passionately; the person cursing the losing lottery ticket that means for one more week they are unable to show the chauffeured CEO that they would indeed spend such a grand sum more wisely—there is anger here, but not of the same type shown to politicians.

Nary do footballers (the infamously pineapple-headed Jason Lee aside) get hounded out of their jobs in the same way politicians so often are. And it’s not like there’s any less media pressure or scrutiny of continual poor performance. Think of the interminably enduring England career of Emile Heskey.

In the non-political classes, there is no instant distrust. This is because there was no trust to begin with; not in the way one trusts, however minutely, a candidate for whom they have voted. The latter is that much more personal. Make one’s football team look foolish, fine; make one’s self look foolish and there’s a price to pay.

How much of today’s political backlash is due to the feeling of betrayal associated with the false hopes of 1997’s Bright New Dawn? How much of any expression of electoral enmity is grounded on a congregational feeling of being let down by the bastards one so innocently believed were once capable of miracles?

As in human society, as in politics, slights like this demand one thing: revenge. And revenge is a dish better served than consumed.

We hate politicians because we hate ourselves; we just can’t cope with the consequences of admitting it. And where, pray tell, does this leave us? It leaves us where we won’t concede we want to be left: with the politicians we deserve and a democracy that gives us exactly what we want; good and hard.

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  2. Sir, I must comment on this outstanding piece of writing. Wonderful, just wonderful. Extremely impressed. Anyway, that’s all.

  3. More importantly, why do some people not hate politicians?

  4. Paul said:

    Personally, better things to do. Can’t speak for everyone, mind.

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