Why is Rob Ford so popular? The question is relevant to politicians everywhere

November 6, 2013

Rob Ford, the Mayor of Toronto is made a figure of fun by his political enemies. Yet he remains popular, and his popularity has risen since he has accepted his use of hard and soft drugs among his other misdemeanours

Rob Ford could be written off as a one-off, an eccentric figure and a joke. His appearances in the media show a larger-than-life figure, an Archie Bunker goes to Washington character.

Another way of looking at it is evidence of the rejection of conventional values by a proportion of the electorate. One commentator suggests that at least some of his support comes from disillusioned electors who believe they have not been listened to by mainstream politicians.

Does that seem familiar?

It does to me. I remember covering the election of political ‘figures of fun’ in Brazil and Italy over the last few years. In Italy, earlier this year, the anti-politician Beppe Grillo won 25% of the vote running for President. In Brazil Tiririka, or Mr Grumpy, stood in the elections of 2010 and won election as a deputy on the slogan “things can only get worse”

The leaders we deserve

In a perverse way, these outcrops of the democratic process are a healthy reminder of the right of the people to opt for the leaders they deserve and reject the rhetoric of political orthodoxy. I find it at least as constructive as the case made by Russell Brand in a recent Newsnight interview [October 2013] to justify ‘revolution by not-voting’.

What’s going on?

I leave open the possibility that a vote for a figure of fun is actually a serious political statement.

An Archie Bunker moment

According to my urban dictionary, Archie Bunker is a slang word for crack or cocaine. Saying that you have some Archie Bunker is referring to the bigot Archie Bunker, which means your product is whiter then one of the whitest men in America.

Updated

Nov 8th. Rob Ford ‘may enter re-hab’


Rob Ford and Leaders We Deserve

November 2, 2013


Rob Ford is still mayor of Toronto as increasingly bizarre stories previously on the web escape into mainline media

Rob Ford makes an easy target for stories vilifying his lifestyle choices. They are accumulating in a way that aging commentators like myself may find reminiscent of the stories about Richard Nixon. History tells us that Nixon continued to deny his actions were illegal, as the evidence mounted that was eventually to impeach him.

The long-running background story of Rob Ford implies a leader struggling to maintain a facade of normality around incidents implying lack of control and involvement in substance abuse. Mr Ford as a target is all the easier for his numerous unflattering images which are now entering the wider public domaine.

Several accounts giving historical background of the Ford story have emerged. The Toronto Star has been a particular rich source of the breaking news.

I also like The Huffington Post story today [1st Nov 2013]

In June [2013], the day after police made the massive drug raids called Project Traveller, [Police chief] Blair said he would not comment on whether the police had seized any video of the mayor or whether he was under investigation.
But that was before an actual video of the mayor was recovered on Tuesday, taken from a hard drive seized during the Project Traveller raids on June 20.

On Thursday, [Nov 30st 2013] Blair said, “I think it’s fair to say the mayor is depicted in the video.”
He added: “I’m disappointed. As a citizen of Toronto, I’m disappointed…I know this this is a traumatic issue for the citizens of this city, for the reputation of this city and that concerns me.”

Will Ford resign?

From a distance, the Rob Ford drama appears heading for a sad conclusion. If I believed in tipping points, I would say the situation has tipped over irretrievably. Other commentators believe that this is a leader who will have to be forced from office rather than resign. This view was expressed in The Guardian a few hours after this post was published [2nd November 2013].

Update

Nov 4th 2013 In his weekly radio broadcast, The Mayor apologizes for his mistakes but avoids admission of any criminal wrongdoing, or intention of standing down.