Really, People? Really!?

April 20, 2010

It’s too early to panic. Deep down I know this. In the bright light of day, I can convince myself that it’s nothing to get all tied up in knots about. This too, it shall pass like a quick bout of food poisoning.

But come the darkness in the early morning hours, when irrational fears and unconquerable dread combine to produce buckets and buckets of the night sweats, well, it ain’t so easy to shrug off. There is recent precedent for such justifiable, anxious concern. Madness, initially brushed aside as merely temporary bouts of insanity, coalescing into a movement, a serious threat and, ultimately, government.

There was Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution in 1995 and again in ’99. Mel Lastman in ’97 and 2000. A little further afield but no less detrimental, George W. Bush in 2000 (the fall of which was a dark, dark time around these parts) and once more in 2004. Clown princes all, who rode to power on a combined wave of misdirected discontent and apathetic nonchalance and then rode off into the sunset, leaving in their respective wakes little more than a big heaping mess of problems for others to try and clean up.

And now there’s Rob Ford.

A recent poll has unexpectedly placed him second among mayoral hopefuls, almost double his nearest competitor and a mere 7% behind front runner, George Smitherman. Surely you jest, comes my first response. Even acknowledging the large degree that name recognition factors into the political equation at the municipal level, Ford is known as much for his bad behaviour as he is for anything positive. Yes, he promptly returns calls from his constituents (and sometimes those of other councillors which probably endears him greatly to his coworkers) and spends none of his office budget, making him a folk hero to some. But he’s also made a name for himself for his loutish outbursts, both at city hall and out in the wider public, and doesn’t seem to play all that well with other councillors. How that will translate into an effective mayoralty is anybody’s guess.

Unless you’re a Rob Ford fan and know, you know, in your bones, that he represents everything that would turn this city around.

Clearly, I am being too rational in my approach. Nothing about the prospect of a Mayor Rob Ford or those who rabidly support him makes any sense whatsoever. He has tapped into to the deep well of disgruntlement and unfocussed anger that rises up during times of economic turbulence. Ford is our very own, home grown, Tea Party Patriot, full of blind rage and illogical, nonsensical, simple-minded solutions. A populist, anti-politician politician who promises that, if elected, will do as little as possible for his ward, his city and that’s exactly how it should be to his cultish followers.

He is the screaming id that now passes for modern conservative thought. Mindless banalities spewed forth from the cerebellum, sounding all homespun reasonable but amounting to nothing more than short-sighted, counter-productive, regressive measures that will make no one’s life better. No one, OK? Cuts to your taxes can only result in cuts in your services. Everybody’s services. Cuts to the number of councillors cannot possibly result in better response time from them. Take a moment and do the math on that one, folks. And fewer councillors mean more power for unelected bureaucrats and all those with a whole lot less concern for the general welfare of this city.

So yeah, you better believe that I’m fucking concerned that Rob Ford’s being taken seriously. It just seems beyond belief.

But it’s April, still more than 6 months before election day. I’m not panicking. Yet. But I will confess to a creeping edginess.

stoically submitted by Cityslikr