By admitting that he used crack, and by trying to excuse his use of crack by saying that he was in one of his drunken stupors, Rob Ford and Toronto have become the one person and place that all the crappy mayors of all the crappy cities of the world can point to and say: "See? At least we didn't screw up that badly!"
I suppose the question people are asking is this: why do we have people like that in office?
Today council will debate a motion to try and force Ford to step aside and get some help. I have in past posts defended Ford against unwarranted attacks by those who opposed him on the grounds that forcing him out of office through the use of unproven and unprovable allegations is a disastrous precedent. Ford has now admitted that some of the allegations are correct, but will not cooperate with police in investigating his criminal behaviour- and smoking crack, whether drunk or sober, is criminal- and he has indicated his determination to fight the resolution in council.
My opinion of this amounts to this: Ford has become a huge distraction. His drunkenness, drug use and erratic behaviour has cast discredit on the causes he espoused- fiscal responsibility, respect for the taxpayer- and made them look ridiculous. Furthermore, all the problems of city council under his watch may now be conveniently pinned on him, which is in my opinion the biggest distraction: because of all the attention focused on Ford, we are missing the main problem, which is that council itself is dysfunctional and has been so for decades. Now councillors can say that he is the source of all their problems and deadlocks, and ignore the fact that council has been unable for decades to do anything about garbage or the Gardiner, and that they even, with almost no help from Ford, once debated hotly for over four hours whether or not to have a Hero Burger in the city hall cafeteria. Ford, as spectacular as his blunders have been, is not the problem itself: he is merely a symptom.
The real problem is that for years Canadians have been presented with worse and worse choices for politicians. They say you should vote for the best man, but up here, he never seems to stand for election. So every election we try and pick the least worst candidate and pray they don't do too much damage before their term is up. To go a little deeper into the problem, I see what I believe to be the real source of our ills: Canadians are stupid.
To turn from municipal to federal politics, we have the spectacle federal leaders asking Canadians to vote for them, when our system prevents us from doing so. We can only vote for our local representatives, but we are paying no attention to them, the people for whom we can actually cast a vote, because we have deceived ourselves into thinking we are voting for the party leader. And what a bunch of leaders they are. Harper, our Prime Minister, has won three elections, and yet in none of those campaigns has he pointed to any achievement he has made during his time in office. Instead he points to the other leaders and asks us not to vote for them because they are bad. They are, but that doesn't mean he is good.
So we have a Prime Minister in office who, after sevral years of serving in that office, literally can't think of a single reason why we should vote for him. But wait until you hear about the guy who came in second. In the last election, He provided us with one of the more pathetic demonstrations of Canadian electoral stupidity. The Conservatives let leak a police report that, some time earlier, the leader of the NDP, Jack Layton, had been caught in a police raid of a massage parlour, but had been released without charges. Layton admitted the incident happened, but said he had been at the rub 'n' tug because he thought it offered therapeutic massages, and continued his campaigning. Consider that for a moment: the man just stated that while he was too stupid to tell the difference between a therapist and a hooker, he believed he was smart enough to run the country. A large number of Canadians agreed with him, and he received the second most votes in the election. Er, his party did, I mean. He has since died of cancer, but his party currently campaigns on 'maintaining Jack's legacy'. I only wish I was making that up.
But, to return to municipal politics, we can see a stupidity that eclipses that. Since he has admitted that he has used crack in a drunken stupor, Ford's approval rating has risen.
So there's your answer. Why do we get people like this in office? Simple. We deserve them.