Tuesday, August 02, 2016

An apology to Rob Ford

By West Annex News (Flickr: Rob_Ford_in_David_Pecaut_Square) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By West Annex News
(Wikimedia Commons)
Rob, if you can hear me... sorry.

Earlier in this election, I compared the brash populism of Donald Trump to the populism of Rob Ford. At the time, the comparison seemed to make sense. Rob Ford had, and "Ford nation" still has, the same sort of supporters who turn out for Donald Trump: lower income individuals who have trouble getting ahead and who see, often correctly, that people who know the secret handshake get breaks from governments the rest of us do not.

But I don't for a second believe Rob Ford would ever have treated the Khans the way Donald Trump treated them, making insinuations about Mrs. Khan's silence as she stood by her husband, or fatuously insisting the "sacrifices" he made to get rich compared with those of the Khans.

By Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/ [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Gage Skidmore 
(Wikimedia Commons)
When I asked myself how Rob Ford would have responded to Khizr Khan's speech, it occurred to me: Rob Ford would have called the Khans. He would have talked to them. Rob always called people who disagreed with him. He would have listened the he Khans. He would have expressed sympathy with their sacrifice. He would probably not have changed any of his positions, but he would have given the Khans the courtesy of a hearing.

All Rob Ford's most vehement opponents, which some
times included me, acknowledged his ability as a retail politician. He listened to people, and whether he agreed with us or not he gave the impression he cared what we thought. I think he genuinely did; I think he had a real desire to help and connect with people, and unlike Donald Trump, he did not respond to opposition with the fury of wounded vanity.

I had the experience of watching Rob Ford as mayor and as councilor. Mr. Trump, you're no Rob Ford.

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