February 14, 2015

Views on an Election Win That Wasn't

Rob   Ford’s back on the airways, saying on a talk radio show that if he’d run for Mayor in the most recent election, he’d have won. 

If I were the citizens of Toronto (and as it happens I’m one of them), I’d be offended. A putatively reformed crack head and alcoholic with a monotonous ongoing spiel about fiscal responsibility to accompany as fiscally irresponsible a term as any of us have seen in our lifetimes, a man in whom you never knew where the mendacity left off and the hyperbolic braggadocio began, a man who claimed a billion dollars saved by his administration by the interesting expedient of counting losses and gains indiscriminately on the credit side, would have won a second term as mayor after serving a first term which was, first to last, a campaign against Rob Ford as Mayor? I don’t think so. The numbers of Ford nation had shrunk appreciably, and Ford was elected originally (by a little over a third of the electorate because of the number of candidates and the first-past-the-post rule in our elections) largely as a gesture of protest. He’d given the protest vote plenty of reason to come out in favour of any candidate, very nearly, so long as that candidate wasn’t a Ford. He might have done marginally better than his brother (who’d been parachuted into the race by means many considered irregular), because he’s more likeable and personable, but he wouldn’t have pulled a single vote away from any of the other candidates, and his deflating hard core of supporters wouldn’t have been enough. Since he would only have continued to contest the election if he were cancer-free, it’s very likely he would have had a relapse of his other condition, binging on booze or free-base cocaine very loudly and publicly in the few weeks remaining before the election. (The first stages of recovery are the most delicate, and require calm and some degree of isolation from stress—not easy to come by in the heat of a mayoral race.) There would still be a hard core of support this wouldn’t have lost him, but it would shrink a touch more. It might have won him some sympathy (as the cancer diagnosis certainly did) among voters like me who favoured other candidates in the last election, but it wouldn’t have won him any of our votes. I felt sympathy, in spite of his belligerence (who knew how long and hungry a day he’d put in?), for the man begging at the Grenview exit to the Royal York Subway last night, and if I’d been a little more flush myself would have helped him more than I did. I wouldn’t have given him my vote for any elective office.