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The Rob Ford Follies

It’s difficult to know where to begin when discussing the notorious mayor of Toronto. His infamy began with the revelation that he is apparently a fancier of crack cocaine. From there the story has taken various crazy directions, veering wildly from allegedly misogynist statements to a physical clash with a female councilor. Mayor Ford has even gone so far as to wear an Argonauts football jersey to speak before the Toronto council. He distinguished the moment with profanity. The Mayor is a dream come true for our increasingly sensationalized national and international media. He’s the gift that keeps on giving.

The follies of Rob Ford illustrate the need for skepticism when thinking about democratic political systems. The promise of democracy is the notion that the people are really the rulers. Politicians work for the voters, it is said, and so if a particular politician turns out to be an embarrassment, he or she can be banished to a deserved obscurity. Certainly it would seem that when an avalanche of disgrace descends upon a politician’s head the way it has in Mayor Ford’s case, the outcry must become so deafening that the individual becomes quickly unemployed. So it would seem.

But let’s look closely at the Ford model because it teaches us a lesson that contradicts many of the democratic precepts with which we’ve grown up. The best way to study the Mayor is to compare him with the man for whom he is nearly a physical dead ringer, Auric Goldfinger, the highest ranking villain of the James Bond novel and film series. Goldfinger was silky smooth, always moving under the radar. Rob Ford has all the subtlety of a team of intoxicated circus clowns. Goldfinger was intensely focused and goal oriented; he was a master planner. Rob Ford, if a Hefty bag (XL of course) were suddenly lowered over him, would not be able to plan a way out. Goldfinger was a well-dressed sophisticate who knew the intricate steps necessary to the creation of a correct mint julep. Rob Ford projects the appearance of a bumpkin, preferring crack to a julep, and a sports jersey to the impeccably tailored tweeds in which Goldfinger adorned himself. Finally, Goldfinger treated his employees well, earning their unwavering loyalty. Rob Ford has fired many of his employees for the offense of trying to advise him toward moderation.

Rob Ford’s similarities to Goldfinger are as striking as the differences. Goldfinger certainly did not know how to treat a lady, and apparently neither does Ford. In fact, the Mayor had his unfortunate wife appear beside him for one of his embarrassing recent appearances. More interestingly, bad things happened to Goldfinger’s enemies, and a number of Ford opponents have become the targets of Toronto gangsters. This has resulted in beatings and murders for Ford’s foes.
Gert FrobeRob FordDoppelgangers: Gert Frobe as Goldfinger and Rob Ford as Rob Ford

There is even a police investigation underway concerning Ford’s activities, and the Toronto council has stripped him of all but his ceremonial powers. Yet he’s still there, and that’s the lesson. Nowhere is change more difficult to achieve than in the realm of government. Think of the taxes that have been unveiled as temporary necessities, and have lasted longer than the legislators who imposed them. Consider the government programs that once instituted become untouchable even to attempts at making them more efficient. Maybe Rob Ford is a type of Uncle Sam, a symbol of the fact that when it comes to government, once it’s there, it’s there.

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