Why People Like the Fords Will Keep Winning Elections – and that’s ok

A few months ago I read an incredibly depressing editorial on why minorities are so overwhelmingly supportive of a man who has been, more than any other Canadian politician in recent memory, outwardly racist and dismissive of these groups. These are propagators of  an ideology that guts social services that support new immigrants, the unemployed, the disabled, single parents, and others that miraculously get their support anyway.

Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The upshot of the argument is that these groups have been so systematically disenfranchised for so long, lied to by so many politicians with fake smiles and empty promises, that at the very least the Fords seem genuine. They were not the first, nor will they be their last. Theirs is a condemnation of how our society treats its marginalized groups.

It’s pretty grim but necessary reading that can be found here. Its message has burned itself onto my brain, and I think that’s why ideologues will keep winning. Whether these assholes win for that reason, that’s why assholes like that win. They reach in and find that kernel of dissatisfaction inherent in any political system and they take advantage of people that have been screwed over time and time again by promising them the same lies in a different coat. In a way, this is how people like Obama win – the same peddling of hope and dreams and a better future that, coming from an unlikely source, somehow feels more believable.

And we need that. We need to believe that we can do better. That we can do better for our neighbours and friends who have been so terribly underserved by governments more concerned with power than people. That we can do better for our children who will inherit whatever we start and whatever we fail to do. That we can do better for ourselves, because we deserve a government that cares about us.

I think of democracies as people who are unlucky in love. The only way to find a good match is not to get jaded, not to lose hope that maybe the next person, if you pick with your mind and your heart, will be the right fit. That next person will be faithful, understand you, and help you become the person you want to be.

So maybe to be willing to believe in a person like Kathleen Wynn, who is now my goddamn personal hero (please don’t fuck this up!), I have to accept that people will be willing to believe in the Rob Fords and John Torys and Mike Harrises and Stephen Harpers and George Bushes. I am sure there will be elections where I will be proven wrong by a candidate I had no faith in.

In fact, I hope John has more substance than his past and platform suggest, because the faith of the people of Toronto, while I feel is misplaced, I also genuinely hope is justified. We need a good run. I hope you’re the man to give it to us.


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