I didn’t watch the Toronto mayoral debate. I don’t live in the city and other than mild amusement, I really don’t care who runs the town. But I’ve read the reviews of the debate and have come to an understanding of why Rob Ford just might win again.
He is loud, bombastic, and he truly believes what he is doing is right, or more exactly, he believes he can do no wrong. Call it arrogance or ego, but no matter what he does, in his mind, he is golden. What is more, he knows all the tricks of a demagogue. He will shout his opponents down. He will intimidate and bully them. He will insult them. Hell, he’ll physically attack them. Yet should they do the same, Ford merely spreads his arms, twirls around and bemoans to the heavens how he is being persecuted by the media and the political Left.
The people of Toronto eat this up. It has nothing to do with politics. In today’s political arena, it’s all about presentation, and Rob Ford presents himself as the underdog of the common man. He can do what he wants because almost every blue collar soul can sympathize and understand. Ford appeals to the lower class, and thanks to the way successive federal and provincial governments have ruined our economy, there is plenty of lower class to go around. This is his powerbase. This is the Ford Nation, and it just might be enough to get him back into office.
The fact is, the other candidates are going to have to do the same. They’re going to have to grab the Ford Nation by their blue collars and shake them into reality. The other candidates will have to stand up to Rob Ford in an open forum. Chow almost did it. Tory still doesn’t know why he is running – I have no clue why the Right love him so much – and the other candidates seem to think they still live in the Toronto of David Miller’s reign, where politeness ruled the day and memories of Mel Lastman occasionally regurgitated in the Press.
The thing is, dealing with Rob Ford is easy. The man seeks the spotlight, so give it to him. And while he is there have him face his errors, have him explain, or try to, let they man talk his way into a political grave. Ford is great at three things, yelling, lying, and evading. Shout him down, catch him in his lies, back him into a corner where he is forced to explain, be it his past actions, or his political platform. The sweat will pour, the face will flush, and when all else fails and he begins to wail to the heavens about the godless Liberals, even the Ford Nation will hear his excuses for what they are, the paranoid ramblings of an angry, potentially violent man with a persecution complex.
Last Wednesday’s debate was the perfect forum for this, and no one, not even Olivia Chow, had the guts to take the bull by the horns. They had Rob Ford right where they wanted him and let him go, something he would never do in return.