Another Ford Fest, another round of ‘What the hell is up with these people?!’
In his Globe and Mail article yesterday about the semi-annual campaign non-campaign event, Ivor Tossell gives it a go at answering that perplexing question.
But Mr. Ford’s core constituency is not a group of any given colour or creed, but a coalition of people who feel they’re on the outside of a booming, changing city. There are lots of different ways to feel alienated — geographically, economically, culturally, ideologically — and Mr. Ford appeals to all of them.
This is not a particularly new notion. Since Rob Ford’s unlikely rise to power at City Hall back in 2010, a chastened rump of non-believers, who’d stood by in growing incredulity throughout the campaign, slowly shaking their collective heads as the election’s outcome hardened into reality, have circled that same territory of what makes a Ford supporter tick. Disengagement through alienation and disenfranchisement. The anger of the outsider. The voiceless given a voice.
Message received. But how is it Rob Ford continues to be the messenger? Given the last four years, nothing of much substance has happened at City Hall that would’ve made anyone’s life appreciably better, anyone angry in 2010 would still have reason to be angry now. Rob Ford has done nothing to change that. Yet he remains the vessel in which people’s frustration and resentment are poured.
I’m wondering if it’s just as simple an explanation as since he’s always angry, the angry identify with him. It doesn’t matter if they’re angry about the same thing. The important fact is they’re angry together. Brothers in Ire.
Whenever we see the mayor or his brother-campaign manager-councillor these days they’re both angrily denouncing something or other. Debate rules. Apparent conflict of interest rules. Rocks and umbrellas. Yelling at cloud angry.
If the Fords are still mad as hell, then something must be wrong down at City Hall. Denounce. Denounce!
His Worship, Our Anger-in-Chief, Rob Ford.
But here’s the thing.
What remains of the Ford base of support, that unbudging 25-30% who show up in every poll, is driven solely by spite and anger. There’s nothing else that fuels them. I don’t know, resentment maybe. That anger is diffuse. To use Mr. Tossel’s 4 categories, geographic – downtown hating suburbanites; economic – cost of living in the city continues to rise; cultural – homophobic bigots, racists, misogynist; ideological – hate government.
The anger is broad and deep.
I would argue at this point, however, that it was not anger, not anger alone, that put Rob Ford in the mayor’s office. His soft support in 2010, the 15-25% or so who put him up over the top, weren’t motivated purely by anger. There was hope too. Hope that Rob Ford would change the culture at City Hall and make it start working for them. Hope that Rob Ford was on the level when he said he would be looking out for the little guy. Hope that Rob Ford would make a positive difference in their lives.
But hope is in short supply these days at Team Ford camp. So you get what you got at Ford Fest last Friday. Yelling, badgering, the laying on of hands, and not in the biblical way.
These are no-hopers, burn it to the grounders. Look at me, ma! (We were once) Top of the Worlders!
What it isn’t is a winning coalition.
Candidates vying to replace Rob Ford need to look beyond this base of discontent. They’ve got their man. No amount of pandering will entice them from him. It’s just a question of how many will continue to fight for a losing cause or just simply walk away, even more disillusioned and fed up than they were going in.
What we need to start hearing is some hope. A full and frank admission that governance in this city has been ground to a halt and that it’s in nobody’s best interest that it continue, and the only way forward is with good ideas and a collaborative spirit. Hope that, in the words of Ivor Tossell, fewer and fewer of us will be left “on the outside of a booming, changing city.”
Most of us know what’s wrong with this city. Transit, lack of diverse sources of revenue, opportunity inequality, regional parochialism, to name a few. How we approach solving those problems is what we should be hearing now. Hopeful solutions, based on reasoned, civil discourse and debate, not indignant shrieks and howls of outrage.
For four years now, we’ve mistaken loudness for soundness. It isn’t. We need to plug our ears to the Ford manufactured din and get on with fixing this thing they’ve tried their best to break into pieces.
— calmly submitted by Cityslikr