Rob Ford Digestion

Plenty of digestion, as people weigh the implications of Ford’s victory in Toronto. What does it say, what does it mean, what are the lessons? I think it’s pretty simple really.

Toronto didn’t move to the right, I see no real evidence of a philosophical shift. The issue of taxes, I would argue nobody wants to pay them, we all see ourselves as gouged, no matter your political persuasion. Across the board, left/right, people think they pay to much for what they get, period. The broad issue of taxes doesn’t quite fit into the neat partisan box many like to assume. Every year, when people get their property tax increase in the mail, the swearing cuts across all party lines.

There is nothing unique in the Ford victory. The "anti-establishment" campaign is as old as politics itself. Ford ran as the regular guy, offered smart and concise messaging, which congealed into a "he’s one of us" sort of presentation. You have this politically incorrect, overweight, semi rude, warts and all guy- a package which relates to ordinary folk. 

If there is a lesson here, that federal politics should note, it’s that provocative isn’t necessarily a negative, SAFE a recipe for a bored electorate. Look at the turnout, that’s the important point. Whatever your view, Ford was able to energize the electorate, people had strong views, good or bad. Ford stepped on toes, but that disposition provoked debate, got the juices flowing, made people take notice. Contrast that with the cookie cutter opponent campaigns, which generated ZERO excitement, and you have a recipe for resonation.

Ford’s victory wasn’t a philosophical shift, I’m sure many voters were uncomfortable with many of his right wing views. However, the overriding, simplistic, populist theme found a motivated audience. The real lesson, forget the political template that campaign after campaign after campaign adopts with robotic zeal. People crave something that is perceived as different, the status quo a roadmap to low turnout. On the federal scene, the voter malaise so obvious and pronounced, all the more reason to take a keen look at Ford and why they showed up in droves. Right wing, left wing, it misses the point entirely in my view. Bold and fresh, a sense that this person will be different, that’s what we’re looking for in the broadest sense…. 

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