There can be no one left in their right mind who supports re-electing Rob Ford. I’m all for differences of political opinion. We can hold different ideas on transit, the environment, what sort of development is best for the city. However, if you want to re-elect a corrupt substance abusing serial liar with criminal ties, whose actual track record as Mayor is also terrible you either hate this city or have lost your goddamned mind.
Fighting against his re-election is not about political differences, it’s civic self defense.
Last night, another debate was held in the race to become Toronto’s next Mayor. Not that you would know by reading anything written about it afterwords. Accounts of last night’s debate focused on a wrestling worthy sideshow created by Toronto’s own tag team of tantrums, Rob and Doug Ford. The bully brothers created self serving chaos, which ensured headlines were written before the debate ever started. Why you ask? Because that’s exactly what they wanted to happen.
The only strategy Ford has left is to make the story about him. Good, bad, whatever, if the story stays focused on Ford he’s happy. It may sound ridiculous, but remember who we are dealing with here. Candidates touched on transit, jobs, leadership and other areas of valid concern to Toronto voters. How much have you heard today about any of that? See my point.
Ford relies on name recognition because it’s all he has. If this is a campaign about issues, accomplishments, or vision Ford has nothing. He doesn’t understand issues, his accomplishments are mostly in his own mind, and as for vision Stevie Wonder’s is probably better.
How to counter all that? Ignore him.
The media may not be willing to ignore him, but the other campaigns need to start. The next time he does something stupid, childish, illegal, or corrupt, ignore it. Refuse to comment. Talk about issues, do it in depth. Ask the media why they aren’t asking about those issues? Given what they’ve endured from Ford, I think candidates may be surprised at how receptive the media is to the idea.
Raise the level of debate to where he can’t compete. Make it clear this campaign is about Toronto and our future, not Ford and his antics. In short do what almost all Toronto wishes council could have done, dismiss him.
This strategy will not cost any candidate a single vote. Ford, like most populists, mainly appeals to low information voters. His slogans and sound bites are dogma to them because they’re easy to understand, and easier to remember. Ignoring his sideshow to talk about actual policy means appealing instead to intelligent, engaged voters, who as a bonus are also more likely to vote.
Once we accept we are not going to convert anyone who still supports Ford, and we’re not, we have to make sure there are more of us than there are of them. That’s where those of us without our names on the ballots come in.
Find a candidate whose platform and ideas you agree with and get involved. Sign up to volunteer, donate money, talk to people you know about your candidate, and let them know why you support them. Encourage those people to visit the candidate’s website, follow them on social media, and if you really want to help get them to volunteer too.
We have ninety days until the election. Ninety days to raise the level of debate, and the volume on ideas that deserve to be heard. Ninety days to ensure our friends, family, and colleagues take an interest in this election. Ninety days to help shape this campaign in to one that focuses on Toronto, the challenges we need to address, and the sort of city we want to live in. That’s the sort of campaign I think most would like to see, it is also one Ford can not win.
Democracy is a verb, and if we want to take our city back it is one we all need to start practicing.