I hope Rob Ford is elected mayor of Toronto.
As one who loathes populist politics, who despises those who pander to the lowest common denominator, I would feel a smidgen of schadenfreude when those who think they've elected a guy just like them end up with a guy just like them (c'mon people, Mel Lastman hasn't receded that far into the mists of time. Have we forgotten already?).
I'd hire an electrician based on her skills and competence, not whether we'd have fun enjoying a few pints down at the pub. The running of a city is serious and needs a serious mayor.
In a recent poll, Ford has inched past (but within the margin of error) mayoral frontrunner George Smitherman. Two yelling, red-faced men, each attempting to show whose deep-seated rage toward the status quo (read: all things touched by the hand of outgoing mayor David Miller) is more authentic.
Ford, he of the drunken verbal assaults and racist-tinged lexicon and one-man call centre, gets tingly talking about his personal fiscal prudence. His annual office budget is but a few pennies; ergo, he is an astute money-manager. Little is actually said, however, about his family's personal wealth earned through Deco Labels and Tags; even though Toronto's integrity commissioner has noted in the past his failure to report office expenses paid for out of his own pocket. Illuminating.
Just as his supposed fiscal prudence is questionable, so is his absurd insistence that he "stands up for the little guy".
Ford wants cuts to every public service in Toronto's budget with the exception of police (despite a decline in crime rates; but you shouldn't be surprised that he likes to play the law and order card), the fire department, and paramedics.
His cuts, which given his rhetoric would be Draconian, would hurt the little guy. Services would become more expensive to make up for funding shortfalls, user fees would appear, and you can be sure some programs would be eliminated.
I want Rob Ford to be elected mayor because other so-called champions of the "little guys" continue this charade with far too many credulous adherents. Think Stephen Harper or Mike Harris. Both promoted tax-cutting, freedom-loving, pull yourself up by your own bootstraps ideologies. The essence of Tea Baggers.
But this hard-work-equals-the-good-life conviction is an illusion (myriad variables influence socio-economic status and usually, hard work has little to do with the Western conception of success), but it is peddled by every two-bit conservative with a dog-eared copy of the Common Sense Revolution.
Perhaps the federal and provincial governments are too abstract, too removed from our quotidian existences. Municipal government on the other hand, is the government closest to us. We see its immediate impact when we take our garbage to the curb, hop on a bus, bounce over a pothole, turn on the taps, call the police, check a book out of a library, have a picnic in a public park.
Maybe this "little guy" foolishness can be exposed for what it is by having someone of Rob Ford's parochial and anti-government approach become mayor.
Unfortunately, Torontonians won't feel the full brunt of Ford's policies. Not having a strong mayor system, Ford must learn to cooperate with his fellow Councillors. Hard to do when he's largely isolated, his oftentimes hateful and ignorant ravings held in disdain by Councillors on the right and left.
The Toronto municipal election is many months away and there is plenty of time for polling numbers to shift and turn and dive. Indeed, roughly 40% of Torontonians polled haven't made up their minds; moreover, the turnout for municipal elections is depressingly low.
But if Ford should win, the little guy will be stomped on just a bit harder.
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