It took me and the wife almost 45 minutes to vote on Monday, standing in line-ups and filling out forms, because my poor darling had been tossed off the voters list again--who knows why?
And 30 seconds after we got in the door back home the Toronto Mayoral race had been called. The result didn't surprise me, though Ford thumped Smitherman more thoroughly than I had predicted.
I, of course, voted for the loser. But I know a few Rob Ford supporters. You might even say I've been doing research on them over the past ten months of municipal campaigning. Or you might just say that I've been drinking beer with them. In either case, I've made note of my results, and here they are.
Firstly, the political ignorance of Rob Ford supporters has been vastly overestimated. Or at least Jim--I will call him--who is a retired inlaw of mine, knows far, far more about what goes on in the city than (for example) I do. Every time a condo is slated to go up within a mile of him, he protests: calls his councillor, phones his MPP, and attends all the meetings with the developers. And his councillor knows Jim, too, and apparently seeks to avoid him sometimes by sneaking out of his office through the back door. That's how engaged Jim is in city politics.
And his opinion is that city politics is corrupt, and Rob Ford is the guy to clean it up.
What Jim doesn't know nor care much about is the actual mechanics of city politics: about the weak mayor system, about how the mayor has only one vote and can't really do anything if he can't put together a working coalition of councillors. And so, I'd say to him, don't you want a guy like Smitherman whose been there at the provincial level, has actually handled billions of dollars and shown that he knows how to do the necessary coalition building?
Then Jim would mention the bungle at E-Health , and that line of argument would stall out.
Nope. Rob Ford is his guy, the metaphoric grease bomb Jim wants to set alight and lob over the ramparts of city hall, working under the assumption that fire will make things right and, in any case, how can they get any worse? Send in the clown, to vary the metaphor, because they're already here.
Which I find a fairly compelling argument.
Sammy is a bit of a different story. He's a big (over six foot) Sri Lanken that runs a bar I frequent. In fact, I think Sammy lives in his bar; I'm pretty sure I've never seen him under natural light. And he recognizes a bit of himself in Rob Ford: a small businessman who works hard and follows every penny, and for the money he sends to the city gets nothing but endless construction outside of the entrance to his establishment
As for Rob Ford's unfortunate ventures into political incorrectness and racial stereotyping, they don't seem to bother Sammy. His place is in what you would probably describe as a lower-middle/working class neighborhood, and gets quite an ethnic mix. I've heard Sammy tell the ranter at the end of the bar to shut the hell up because he was making people crazy; I've heard Sammy tell a mostly black softball team that they should come by on Sundays rather than Saturdays for their after-game parties, because they'd frighten the old white guys that inhabit the place on Saturday afternoons. In other words, his approach to Toronto's ethnic bouillabaisse is, like Ford's, indelicate.
How am I supposed to tell him that he should find Rob Ford offensive?
So there you have it. Two specific instances of the Rob Ford phenomenon, and both rational men too. They're the people behind his victory, not the anonymous knuckle-draggers you keep hearing about.