You’d think that after nearly 4 years of watching Rob Ford full time, I’d be immune to the charms, let’s call them, of his presentation, let’s call it. His inability to put together any sort of coherent thought that hasn’t been drilled into his consciousness by simple word messaging. His monumental awkwardness under the spotlight that he so obviously craves. His childlike wonder at childlike things.
“The haunted house is the best. It’s the best!”
Yet I am.
Or at least, I am captivated by the continued appeal the mayor has on what remains a rock solid base of voters in Toronto. What do they see and approve of when they watch Mayor Ford in action at yesterday’s press conference outside his haunted office? When I watch him verbally fumble and mumble, bouncing from one cliché to another, playing fast and loose with the truth, I see someone in way over his head, glistening in flop sweat. What do those who still think he’s there looking out for the little guy, uncomfortable speaking publicly because he’s not a professional politician although he’s been one for the past 13 years see?
Themselves reflected in him, all honourable intentions but with the rough edges that prove his lack of affectation?
If that’s the case, do they share the same point of view about politics and democracy as the mayor does? That it’s all nothing more than a game, a little rough and tumble, a blood sport that’s only about winners and losers. Keep your head up and my taxes low, yo.
Facing his first official, big name opponent (sorry David Soknacki, you’re not a big name yet) for next year’s election campaign, all the mayor could spout was sports vernacular, and not just sports but heavy duty contact sports. No thrust and parry of the foppy French for Mayor Ford, no siree. It was all about clearing the bench, dropping the puck and dropping the gloves and keeping your chin strap tight.
In fact, sports had very little to do with it. It was all about combat, pure and simple. Rock `em, sock `em politics. Keep your head up and elbows sharp, boys. There Will Be Blood.
I get the visceral appeal, I do. I was a 14 year old boy once too. Full of raging testosterone and a passionate desire (if limited ability) to pummel opponents and smite my perceived enemies. Lay waste to all who stood in my way.
Eventually, my teenage years behind me, I realized that I wasn’t ever going to be a professional athlete. Maintaining such a pugnacious approach might just be counter-productive in regular society. Seeing the world through such an us-versus-them, with me or against me, Manichean lens would be ultimately limiting.
Now, I’m not Pollyannish enough to believe that politics has ever been played by Marquis of Queensberry rules, wearing kids’ gloves. It is not for the faint of heart. I get it. The object is to win in order to be able to deliver up your ideas and platform in the service of bettering the lives of those you get elected to represent.
That’s different than simply winning for winning’s sake. It’s one thing to be competitive. An another thing entirely wanting nothing less than to obliterate your opponents – no, enemies – to destroy them, to slash their throats, steal their wallets and leave them bleeding in the gutter.
That’s not competitive. That’s sociopathic. Or psychopathic. I’m never sure what the difference is between those two. Either one is not good, not healthy for politics or democracy.
There’s nothing wrong with backing a winning candidate, in seeing your interests represented by them in office. It’s just a little dispiriting to think that a significant bloc of Torontonians are drawn into the process out of some sense of blood lust and a desire to inflict damage on those who don’t agree with them. Take No Prisoners may be a great motivating battle cry in a locker room during half time but it leaves civic life a little ragged, mean-spirited and unproductive.
— the Wholly submitted by Cityslikr