One of the things about politics that flummoxes me most is the need for ‘likeability’ in our politicians. That notion candidates need to be just one of us, a regular guy, a hardworking Joe (note the gender bias there, huh?) Someone we’d all like to sit down and have a beer with. Best buds. BFF.
Personally? I’ve already got plenty of people in my life I’d like to sit down and have a beer with and not nearly enough time to do so. I’m not looking to my elected representatives to grow that particular list.
No, what I’m looking to them for is, well, good governance and all that. I don’t want to elect somebody who’s just like me. My god that would turn out poorly for everyone concerned. I want my politicians to be smarter than I am. To be more thorough. Exercise better judgement. To have a firm grasp on the issues they were elected to grapple with.
Frankly, I think this likeability bar candidates have to clear is nothing more than apathy on the part of the voting public. Don’t bore me with the details, folks. Who’s got the time for all that? Just send in the monkeys to perform and let me decide based entirely on that. You got 10 minutes.
So affability not acumen becomes the key ingredient for a successful run in politics. Forget the best and brightest. We want the cuddliest Tim Hortons types who understand we aren’t really that interested in the process just the outcome. Low taxes. Safe streets… Yeah, that’s about it.
Of course, writing that makes me an out-of-touch elitist, not grounded in the realities of life. This doesn’t have to be complicated, egghead. Running a city/province/country isn’t rocket science. Anybody could do it if they really wanted. So why not elect just anybody?
This attitude is very advantageous for your run-of-the-mill anybody politician. When you’re just one of us, a regular guy, any sort of criticism directed your way is perceived as an attack on one of your friends. It’s not about policy differences or politics even. It’s personal. It not only questions a voter’s political judgement but their judge of character.
Regular guy politicians like Mayor Rob Ford continue to get a pass from his supporters despite mounting evidence that he’s not really up to the task of the job he was elected to do because admitting that’s the case is akin to bailing on a friend when he gets into a tough spot. Hey. Come on. Give the guy a break. Nobody’s perfect. He’s doing the best he can. Just like us.
Just like us, he has trouble understanding conflict of interest rules. I mean, who has time to read the fine print of the guidelines? Just like us, he mumbled and contradicted himself on the stand in court under the heavy artillery attack of Clayton Ruby. You’d be cooler? Just like us, he hosted a BBQ for thousands and thousands of people in his mom’s backyard because that’s what good friends do. It had nothing to do with amassing a substantial voter database to use in 2014. Suggesting that is just cheap politics. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
Just like us, Mayor Ford takes time from his busy schedule at work to help kids avoid a life of crime. Sure, he loves football and hates the nitty gritty that comes with doing the job he’s paid to do but who doesn’t? What? You have something against keeping kids on the straight and narrow?
Politicians like Rob Ford wear their populism as a shield against legitimate, fact based opposition. You don’t agree with him, offer up criticism of his policies, you are questioning the wisdom and intelligence of those who voted for him. You’re railing against democracy itself. Nothing more than a sore loser.
Thus, his promotion of Ford Nation.
“As you saw this week,” the mayor told last Friday’s gathering at Ford Fest in a non-campaign speech for his 2014 campaign, “they’re coming after us every which way.” We’re in this together, folks. You and me against everyone who disagrees with us. Don’t listen to my critics, to the naysayers. They just want to take your vote away from you, your voices. Mi casa, su casa.
It almost dares you to criticize, to oppose. It hardens the resolve, the absolute commitment to the cause. It’s near perfect fucking strategy.
But the thing to remember is, it’s just that. A strategy. Like almost everything about Rob Ford the politician, it’s all artifice. A manufactured image created to mask the rage, inadequacies and disinterest that make up the core of his politics. That’s something easier to pick up and run with than it is to maintain. Eventually the failings will be too great for anyone but the hardest of hardcore supporters to accept as their own.
Successful friendships can’t simply continue down a one-way street.
— hopefully submitted by Cityslikr
To Quote Arthur Miller: He was liked but not well liked.
Remember there was a movement trying to recall David Miller, but in the end was re-elected.
To quote Winston Churchill The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think we’re already there. Nobody’s going to support him except the deadheads of Ford Nation, for all the reasons you suggest, and I’m not so sure that’s enough of a base.
(Of course, I’ve always been big on self-delusion.)
Support for the man is largely those who do not read the blogs of pundits and politicos or use social media. And there are more of them, than of you. To dislodge the base, you need to be with the base, not with the like minded online.
Good points, but I’d also add “those who do not or cannot think critically, handle complexity, or read anything more complicated than the tabloids.” I’d also submit that a lot of people who don’t read blogs or use social media have also recognized his shortcomings.
We may or may not be able to dislodge his base, as you put it, but perhaps the base isn’t enough of a voting bloc any more.
Ford’s base is larger than pundits think. Talk to my neighbors and its surprising how many silent supports there are.
And insulting someone’s intelligence and beliefs is not the proper way to deal with the swaying residents of Toronto or his base. Name calling only strengthens their resolve.