A Benevolent Fascism


It has been more than a week since Rob Ford's death, and over a year since his tenure as mayor, and Toronto is still effectively broken into two camps: pro-Ford, and very, very anti-Ford. There is no middle-ground, no moderate position to take on his legacy, just a violent defence-of and opposition-to his personality and politics. While many fixate on these two elements, there should be a renewed focus on the Fords' calculated fascist tactics to create such a perfect division that goes beyond Hogtown's local town halls and speaks to a larger global political disorder. Their first step was to create an enemy.

Years back before the mayoralty, the Ford brothers validated the boogeyman of the "Downtown Liberal Elitist" for the population of the suburbs. This caricature played off of the general disdain the suburbs have always had for Toronto's downtown core and allowed for an easy, intangible "other" to target. It also conveniently cemented Ford as the De facto vanquisher of this liberal threat. To a spectator this is obvious trick, introducing the disease and then selling the cure. But this was the core of the Fords' strategy. It relieved the conservative suburban taxpayer of his or her responsibilities while simultaneously making them feel more accountable. They could at once point fingers at the lefty downtown populace while taking credit for everything good about the GTA. Even when experts easily refuted their claims, using facts to neutralize their arguments, the Fords were right. It made no sense. And thus, Ford Nation was officially born.

The Nation's persistent bleating of the Ford Brothers' love of Toronto was the armor to their anti-liberal sword. Nationalistic in spirit, the idea that somehow declaring love something makes you qualified or even good at it seems like a ridiculous sentiment, but clearly wasn't for a body of the population with an inability to detect illogicalities in general. The Ford brothers were fiscally responsible for the taxpayers, but accountable to nobody. They relentlessly attacked the liberal establishment at city hall, but whined as victims of any personal shortcomings. In short, they embodied the people who voted for them: hypocritical, incapable of self-reflection, immune to personal accountability. These shared traits transcended economic and racial lines linking a rich, white, conservative to his not rich, multi-ethnic, conservative base. Irrespective of policy, the conservatives in the GTA seemed to treasure their inability to be fair or impartial. And why should they have been? It was apparently not their fault.

The bipolar nature of the Fordites' logic extended to their perceived enemy. If a liberal city councilor was aggressive, it was proof that the Downtown Elitists were on the attack. If the same councilor remained neutral or backed down, they were cowardly and impotent but still somehow dangerous. Cognitive incongruence was a running theme for the Ford Boys, and was only ramped up towards their crucible of a re-election campaign. And while they lost the election, the Rob Ford funeral's borderline North Korea-esque dramatics leave one in awe of the polarization that the Etobicoke once exploited.

And now in other Right v. Left arenas, whether it's the U.S. suffering with Trump, or White Nationalists marching in Poland, the contradictions and logical inconsistencies are mind-boggling. Maybe the best example is our own Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. So far the same group who would prop up Rob Ford, holding him to the same standard as they would their own spoiled, delinquent teenage son, cannot seem to find enough time in the day to deride the P.M. of things that he hasn't even said or done. There is high standard for Trudeau, and low one for his conservative counterparts. Right-wing policies or ideologies aside, the conservative movement in Toronto, Canada, and the world is now correlated with cognitive dissonance. The most objective conservative now has to decide if the collateral damage that is associated with their political leaning is really that coincidental, or an acceptable benevolent fascism.

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