Rob Ford and the politics of anger

Post by Eric Mang in


Did this guy just vote in Toronto? Eric thinks so...

Eric Mang returns to ready for bear now that Rob Ford is Toronto's mayor. This week one of our most read posts was Eric's January 2010 analysis of the candidates looking to replace David Miller. Here is Mang's take on the Rob Ford win.

One of my favourite scenes in cinema is Peter Finch's rain-soaked, pajama-clad Howard Beale commandeering the airwaves to bellow he's mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore.

Much has been said since Monday's municipal election declared Rob Ford the mayor-elect of Toronto. And much of that analysis asks why and how a majority of Torontonians elected a fellow with a checkered past, a millionaire "every-man", an inarticulate and visionless politician who complained about dysfunction at City Hall and gravy trains while spending the last 10 years as a Toronto city councillor.

The phrase most often used to describe the ascension of Ford is "voter anger". This rage against the machine may have blinded many Ford supporters as to the character and measure of this man. Fury with the so-called elite prevented vast swaths of the electorate from seeing that cutting the land transfer tax and the vehicle registration tax will not, despite Ford's claims in an odd and brief CBC interview, lead to better spending at City Hall. Indeed, cuts to these taxes will reduce city revenue and hurt the very programs many Ford-supporters need and cherish.

But logic and reason be damned. Many are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore.

Anger motivates the Tea Partiers to the south. Those of the tri-cornered hats and "don't tread on me" t-shirts feel that their institutions and governments and employers have failed them. That their pensions, if they even had one, are in jeopardy and their jobs on the brink; leading to a mix of panic for the present and fear of the future.

In the US, Obama's message of hope has slipped into despair, with Obama seeking to placate the ragin' hordes with a sweet turn on Jon Stewart's Daily Show. But he knows the mid-terms will be awash with red, ushering in Rob Ford-esque congresspeople who sell simple messages of not taking it from the man anymore. Will this new crop in congress make it all better? Unlikely.

I must admit, I'm glad I was out of Toronto for the weeks leading up to Election Day. It's easy to lose all perspective when caught up in the heady mess of elections. It's a bit too simple to write off Fordites as odd and perplexing, even though I have been guilty on a few occasions of drawing this conclusion.

I understand the politics of anger. It seduced me into being a conservative and kept me there when I used it as tool in election campaigns. Anger is a base instinct to tap into and much easier to appeal to than reason.

Anger is the stuff of anecdotes and good stories. And while those among us that lead lives of reason, logic and hew to evidence, we know that a good yarn will beat dry stats any day.

Rob Ford will learn, one hopes, rather quickly that running Toronto isn't like being the Etobicoke ward boss he's been for the past decade. He will be given far less latitude to make offensive statements or breach ethics rules or not attend important council meetings.

He'll learn that anger can quickly turn on you. At some point he'll find that, as the Korean proverb goes, "if you kick a stone in anger, you'll hurt your own foot".

- post by Eric Mang. Originally published at


Eric Who?
Continue to write in Toronto pal. Here in Vancouver you have no pull. People there got sick only by having to think that another shmuck like Smitherman will sell them his same old racket. And then repopulate Toronto
s City Hall with his people. Look what happened in Vancouver. If I would be living in Toronto I would sell my car right away,and go buy a FORD.

It's interesting that in your analysis of the Toronto election you attribute Rob Ford's success to anger but did not identify why people were so angry that they would vote for someone you consider to be so obviously unqualified. Let me offer a possible cause.

People are tired of working like dogs only to have their earnings whittled away by taxes at all levels of government in order to pay public service salaries and benefits those in the private sector can only dream of. How attractive is the compensation? In the recent Globe and Mail supplement "Canadian University Report" a survey of undergraduates identified the civil service as the employer of choice by a wide margin. This was consistent across all disciplines including business and engineering and not just liberal arts.

Rob Ford may very well fail miserably in his effort to reduce spending but the anger won't go away until the balance in the economy shifts back towards those who create wealth from those who redistribute it.

"Anger motivates the Tea Partiers to the south"

No . . . what motivates the tea Partiers is the hope they can reclaim their country from the "progressives" who think they have a moral right to claim other people's wealth and give it to others who they feel "deserve" it.

Tea Partiers are just ordinary people who have reached the end of their frustration rope and are taking control of their future and their politics.

Real Hope, not the Obozo hopey-changey crap that the sympathetic US MSM allowed him to peddle to America last election.

The hope of the Tea Partiers is going to be supported Big Time on Tuesday when ordinary decent tax paying Americans boot Obozo & his fellow progressive elitist to the curb.

Are 'progressives' foreclosing peole's homes? Did they run the USA for the last decade of ballooning deficits? Do they profit now from public subsidies given to private banks?

The people who think they have a claim on other people's wealth are the financiers who brought the economy to the edge of disaster, who were saved by a gigantic transfer of public wealth to their private pockets, and who repay their victims by taking their homes, exporting their jobs and exploiting the disaster for further profit.

They are the same people who finance the Tea Party and if they succeed it will be thanks to dupes like you.

Well put.


I do write in Toronto. This story, if you had chosen to read to the end, is originally posted at

The intent of is to provide perspectives from cities around Canada. Indeed, I used to be a regular contributor to this site, offering commentary on Toronto politics.

However, if you see something that you don't want to read, don't read it.

As an aside, every politician repopulates City Hall with his/her people. Ford will not be unique and you can hardly expect him to be welcoming to progressives.

It's not anger that motivates the Tea Partiers, it's brainwashing and marketing. The Tea Party was originally started by Ron Paul, and had good intentions. It was subsequently co-opted by the Republicans. It is now 100% Republican and, therefore, yet another party of the banksters.

As far as Ford goes, his position hardly tenuous. Throughout his career he's been controversial. I doubt the citizens of Toronto are so sensitive that they'll cower under their bed covers when they hear what he has to say going forward.

Clearly he's a unique guy, but it's time that politics itself got a little less politically correct. The people are damned tired and they're starting to take back their governments. That's a very good thing.

Ford is the mayor. He himself will be deciding what latitude he has, not the wimpy press.

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