Toronto Mayor Rob Ford At News Conference

Like everyone, I too have been following the sordid saga that is Rob Ford’s mayoralty term in Toronto. As the allegations continued to be released, along with video evidence of his horrid behavior, I laughed along with everyone else at how he seems to step in shit everywhere he goes. Populist politicians, like Ford, are a different breed. Things that would bring down most elected officials seem to not only roll off populists but also seem to also galvanize their base. Most populists are conservative by nature and subscribe to anti-intellectual ideas. They believe that the left-wing elites are what is causing problems and if they could just get rid of them then everything would run so much better. The more the media tries to discredit someone like Ford, the more his base supports him. It is almost as though the fevered pitch in the media is evidence of the power of the leftist, university-educated elites have no understanding of what life is really like for the ‘little guy’, the blue-collar worker, the taxpayer.[1] Support of the base for guys like Rob Ford is almost guaranteed as long as he doesn’t forget which master he serves; he can, pretty much get away with just about anything.

The allegations that surfaced earlier in 2013 about the potential of a video existing of Ford smoking crack cocaine did not harm his reputation or his level of support in Toronto. Sure he lost lots of staff and people around him were begging him to get help but Ford still had control of the message. He could rail on about how the media were persecuting him and trying to de-rail the very important work he was elected to do. Stopping the ‘gravy-train’ has been Ford’s raison d’être as mayor of Toronto and he could deflect media speculation and criticism of him by stating that he needed to get back to work doing what the people of Toronto elected him to do. Casting the media and the pundits as the enemy that prevents him from running the city appeals to his base.

The revelation that in fact there is a video of Ford smoking crack and his subsequent admission that he had smoked crack ‘while in a drunken stupor’ would not have been enough to move a substantial amount of his base support. The reasons why are myriad. Most of us are familiar with at least one person in our lives who suffers from alcoholism. Many of them would likely have felt sorry for Ford that in an inebriated condition he had smoked crack cocaine. Ford could still credibly state that he was being persecuted by the media and left-leaning liberal elites.

The video released this week, however, may prove Ford’s undoing. People relate to politicians because they see something of themselves reflected back. This week’s video that shows an extremely inebriated Ford railing on about how he is going to murder someone crosses a line. This Rob Ford is not someone the base can support. His behavior is reprehensible and disgusting. He demonstrates that he is truly in need of a great deal of help to cope with his substance abuse issues. His base could forgive him for doing stupid things like smoking crack cocaine once or twice but once he was revealed to be a vile monster, no one wants to get on that train with him.

As a woman watching that video, I was horrified. I wonder what his family has had to endure living with this man for all these years. He got drunk and threatened to murder in someone else’s house. If he can do that, what is he capable of at home? I can only imagine the metric fuckton of abuse he has heaped on his family. I suspect that at the very least they must listen to him rant and rave on a daily basis but I fear it is much more. I don’t care a wit about Rob Ford but my heart bleeds for his family. I only hope there is someone in the extended Ford family who can reign Rob Ford in and make him get help. At the very least he needs rehab for his drug and alcohol issues and he must get a handle on his rage. If Ford is able to do these things there may be a redemption story here that will save his political career. Without the transformation he doesn’t stand a chance.

[1] Nuances like the fact that everyone pays taxes regardless of their education is lost on people like Ford.

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