I’ve been following the Rob Ford scandal intently for the last couple days and as much as I hope I am wrong, I think he will survive this debacle and the fault lies entirely with his opponents.
It’s all an issue of framing. The issue has been framed by the media and his opponents as a question of individual morals – a politician that smokes crack and lies about it should resign. But the context is completely left out and without the context, Rob Ford becomes a sympathetic figure … a figure that the very people the left should count as allies, the disenfranchised, the oppressed, can connect to .
This context that has been erased is that the policies he pushes for are the very policies that are the most harmful to the people being drawn to Ford. Instead of the focus on the specific act depicted in the video, the issue at hand should be the shear hypocrisy and double standards.
This is a man who uses substances, and has the money to ensure the safety of his drugs/check into a fancy rehab facility, BUT opposes safe injection sites and the funding of harm reduction programs for those without money.
This is a man who participates in criminal activity, and writes support letters for his associates/has associates that get out on bail the next day, BUT calls for the deportation of others less prosperous who may have been caught up in gang violence (who also happen to be racialized and some of whom ironically may well have gotten into the predicament in the first place by strings pulled by Rob Ford and associates).
This is a man who feels that an apology is sufficient and that he should be given a benefit of a doubt, BUT demands the firing of a young individual and his manager after a stalker takes a photo of the individual with his head down.
Unfortunately, this has not been the focus … the focus has simply been on the issue of the Mayor using crack and his response to the allegations. I cringed through two hours of Rob and Doug Ford’s radio show, listening to callers announcing support and sympathies towards the mayor – including a young single mother who lauded Ford’s community service and the need for second chances. While I do not doubt that callers were screened, I do believe that there is residual, if not, growing support from the very communities that are most hurt by Rob Ford’s agenda. A monster has been created. Inadvertently, the harbinger of policies that privilege high society have been made to appear as an underdog, a regular joe attacked by out-of-touch downtown elites.
Before the last elections, a lot of us wondered if Smitherman would be more dangerous than Ford, someone who was much more able to navigate the established political framework but had very similar policy goals and ideas. I am not so sure if this is true any more; if not now, then likely tomorrow.
If anything, the very least this whole episode has proven is that the liberal left is unprincipled and no ally to the marginalized, and us on the hard (?) left are completely irrelevant. But, I suppose, we already knew that.
Boy, I hope I am wrong.