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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ford's ascendancy, explained


For the last day or so, I've been thinking about Alex Himelfarb's wonderfully thoughtful essay on why people vote against their own interests. Again, nothing I can say to improve upon it.

And now, a perfect illustration: from the Star today, it seems that Rob Ford is “tapping into suburban fury.”

So what is this “fury,” and why, since the Star never explains, should anyone take it seriously?

Is it just the usual “I don't wanna pay taxes for those condescending downtown elitists / lazy overpaid unionized thugs / tax-and-spend socialists / artsy-fartsy communists, yargle bargle bleghhh, drool ... ” horseshit?

If that's it, then fuck that and the people thinking it. A toxic brew of inchoate rage, ignorance and resentment is not the same thing as committed citizenship. And it's time we stopped coddling it and pretending it's something that needs to be humoured or respected.

Honestly, are people no longer capable of thinking except in clichés? Has anyone noticed how easily “mad as hell and not going to take it any more” morphs into “lazy, stupid, belligerent and unwilling to do anything that actually requires thoughtful engagement?”

That's why Ford's leading. That's what Stephen Harper taps into. That's why Sarah Palin is, well, Sarah Palin. And that's what's behind the outbreak of teabaggery to the south, along with a healthy dose of bigotry, racism, and well-orchestrated fear and scapegoating of The Other – all conveniently misdirected so that no one can see who really benefits from just how dysfunctional things have become.

It's a simple, easy-to-grasp narrative, unaffected by facts, devoid of context, and willingly propagated by the Fox Noise wannabes at Sun Media. An easily exploited, all-purpose current of spite, resentment and anti-social sentiment – in other words, the perfect basis upon which to build a healthy community. Not.

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