Do Worry Be Unhappy

August 29, 2010

So just what the hell is going on out their on the mayoral campaign hustings? Are we really angry, like spittin’ nails angry, or are we just fine and dandy, cool as a cucumber, happy as clams? To hear Rob Ford and his vocal supporters spew bile, the whole city’s going into the crapper and the people we elect are to blame. Except Rob Ford, of course. In Friday’s Toronto Sun candidate George Smitherman is quoted as saying that he’s running for mayor because he was “… pissed off too” with City Hall.

And yet in NOW magazine this week, according to an exploratory poll conducted in July to track support for a possible John Tory run, 77% of those asked said that they thought “City Hall is on the right track.” Curiouser still, that same poll concluded “that a third of Ford supporters are comfortable with the Miller regime.” We says WHAT?!?

Pbn;oyaehpgPOANnNPOAhpap;oaP]ahhenahgv89!!!!! [Cognitive dissonance!! Cognitive dissonance!!! Does not compute! Danger!! Danger, Will Robinson!!!]

Just what gives?

After a long pause to stare wildly at the screen expecting it to provide me with some sort of credible answer, followed by a wild night of totally out-of-control binge drinking which itself was followed by a 3 course carbo-heavy breakfast to quell shaky nerves and an irregular heartbeat, I am back in front of the computer with what seems as plausible an explanation as any. This is all David Miller’s fault.

If the guy would just run again, just get back in the ring and take his lumps like a man, then everyone would have a real-life, tactile object to hate on. In his absence, they are forced to rail at the darkness, throw shit at the wall to see what sticks or blare outrageous noises and yell about perfectly reasonable things at the top of their voices so that IT ALL SEEMS SO CORRUPT AND UNHEALTHILY FATTENING SLURPING FROM THE GRAVY TRAIN! And none of it has to make a lick of sense.

David Miller not seeking re-election leaves a void in the campaigns of those vying to succeed him, throwing phantom punches at a chimerical bad guy in the hopes of landing a knockout blow against a non-existent opponent. Without him there, they just can’t seem to focus on why it is they want to be mayor of Toronto. Instead, they can only serve up a heaping helping of outrage and indignation, needing constantly to remind voters just how angry we all are.

Of course our blind rage is food that drives the media narrative. It is much more compelling than contentment. This boiling ire on the part of the Toronto electorate can be traced back to last year’s outside worker’s strike, manifested in all its debilitating horror by homeowners having to deal with their own garbage for six whole weeks. Has ever a city been so put upon as we were in the summer of `09? When Mayor Miller and his merry band of labour-loving socialists failed to crush the union into oblivion, sending its members packing and onto the streets looking for ‘real’ jobs, well, clearly he’d lost the war. He caved. Gave in. Handed over the keys to the vault.

None of which was true but that hardly mattered. As far as the press was concerned, the strike and its awful conclusion was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Toronto was on the wrong track, heading for some apocalyptic ending unless our wayward spending spree was stopped dead in its tracks. Reduce taxes! Reduce government! Stop the gravy train!! Remember, voters, you are really, really angry.

Except that, if the numbers from the John Tory exploratory poll are to be believed, we’re not. More than 3/4s of us think City Hall’s heading in the right direction. That’s well over twice the support current front runner Rob Ford has amongst the voting public. And one out of three of the Ford Army is apparently happy with the David Miller administration. So, the focus of their anger is something that they’re happy with… ?!

Does this mean we are dealing with a very vocal minority, kicking up a lot of fuss and generating little more than manufactured outrage, egged on by certain self-proclaimed ‘dumb’ members of the press like Christie Blatchford who routinely fills her column with a laundry list of supposed excesses at City Hall, wallowing in her boastful ignorance about what those numbers actually show? If so, that’s not really a grassroots, populist movement swelling up to demand real, tangible change. If it were, it wouldn’t be marching in lockstep behind a self-serving millionaire blowhole and having its praises sung in the pages of corporate owned newspapers by elitist downtown hacks pretending to be just one of you-alls.

It’s one thing to contend, and try to find compromise, with genuine anger. But anger with no substance? That’s a temper tantrum. It’s irrational and will do little to help alleviate the problems that this city legitimately faces.

Simply being angry is easy. Two year-olds do it all the time. It’s rarely productive and usually only masks what they’re really mad about.

consciously patronizingly submitted by Cityslikr