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Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Putz likes Ford. Who knew?

Really. Who could have foreseen such a thing?

As sure as a turnin' of the earth, as John Wayne might have said. Honestly, did anyone seriously expect anything else?

It's not especially surprising to see the Putz endorsing Ford. What's instructive, though, is the rationale – which, like most far-right tropes, doesn't really stand up to close examinations.

Let's go through it, and unpack some of the assumptions.

"Toronto desperately needs change at City Hall." 

But why? What, pray, is so awful at City Hall that the need for change is so desperate? I can't speak for anyone else, but whenever someone casts things in such apocalyptic terms, my skepticism cranks up. In fact, any time someone tries to portray the situation as so irredeemably awful that there's absolutely nothing to be done except to blow the whole thing up and start from scratch, I start to wonder what the real end-game is.

And as you read farther into the Putz editorial, you see: that's exactly where they're going.

"Toronto very much needs a proverbial bull in the china shop. A great many precious, expensive things at City Hall need shattering."

Sorry, but when did destruction for the sake of destruction become a civic virtue? Whatever happened to the notion of stewardship? For a paper that purports to be conservative, the Putz isn't exactly arguing for preservation, reflection or care. Stirring up chaos for the sake of chaos is hardly a conservative touchstone. It's worth noting, however, that chaos and upheaval do create opportunity – for certain people.

More to the point, though: why should we buy into the argument that spending is out of control, and that someone has to turn off the tap, or stop the gravy train, or [insert whatever stupid right-wing cliché you like] ...? 

I've written previously about the problematic assumptions underlying the whole "tax and spend" meme, and if nothing else, progressive observers need to push the discursive goalposts back from the precipice. As if it's somehow wrong for public policy to be based on channelling resources toward the advancement of the public good. That's right: we raise revenues by collecting "taxes," and then we "spend" those resources on things that make our community and our society better. Why is that a bad thing? Why should we apologize for that? For the last three decades the right-wing noise machine has been turning words like "tax," "liberal," "progressive" and "society" into epithets. It's long past time to reclaim them.

To the extent that the Putzies blow off Smitherman as a guy who'll say anything to win, they're right. But to accept their condescending dismissal of Joe Pantalone, you have to buy into the same stupid, thoughtless, "Toronto's falling apart, going to hell in a handbasket" bullshit that Ford's been peddling since day one. And you also have to accept the premise that David Miller's tenure has been an unmitigated disaster.

But again, there's another assumption that doesn't stand up. Miller never:
  • had to deal with unacknowledged children as a result of screwing around
  • called in the army to ... well, help shovel snow
  • ignorantly insulted people who simply disagreed with him
  • joked about being boiled in a pot while natives danced around him
  • sat there with his thumb up his ass while city officials gamed computer-leasing arrangements to fill their pockets.

Does anyone really want to go back there?

In truth, Ford would probably be just as much of an embarrassment, but you can't govern effectively on the basis of visceral gut instinct, and one doubts that he has the people skills to cobble together a stable coalition. Given the Post's ideological grounding, however, you can't help but wonder whether this is just part of the larger "government is the problem" narrative. In which case, the endorsement starts to make sense, in a warped way: put incompetent idiots in charge of public institutions, watch them screw everything up, and then bring in the old "private sector can do it better" bullshit.

There's another way. Whatever happens on election day, the road back to sanity is clear, but how long the journey's going to be depends on us. 

1 comment:

  1. Given the endorsement, is that the most flattering picture they could find?