Trump And Ford Appeal To The Disenfranchised

Posted on Thursday, September 29 at 17:59 by JaredMilne
Donald Trumpís candidacy for the U.S. presidency has attracted a lot of scorn for many of Trumpís supporters. Kevin Williamson and David French wrote contemptuously in the National Review about how the working-class Americans supporting Trump had no one to blame but themselves for their problems. They failed themselves, and they should have known better. A similar contempt emerged in some circles towards ĎFord Nationí, the supporters of Torontoís former Mayor, the late Rob Ford. Michael Bolen shared Williamsonís and Frenchís contempt when he wrote in the Huffington Post about the supposed bigotry and disdain for intelligence of Fordís supporters. Apparently itís never occurred to Bolen or anyone else that this kind of contempt is whatís driven so many people to support Trump, Ford and others like them. In her book Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, Toronto journalist Robyn Doolittle talked about how many people in downtown Toronto lived almost in a bubble, dismissing the idea that someone like Ford could ever be elected in their city. Fordís election was a rude awakening. Some observers are already noticing a similar issue with Donald Trump. William McGurn wrote in the Wall Street Journal about Trump supporters being concerned about how their children will fare in a shaky economy, and noted the snide comments made by pundits towards the masses who disagreed with them. Alec McGillis echoed this in The Atlantic, writing about the contempt directed at Trump supporters from both the left and the right. Itís worth considering what could really be motivating the support for figures like Trump and Ford. David Daymen wrote in The American Prospect about how pro-Brexit voters supported Leave because they were frustrated with an elite that claimed it knew best, while the Leave voters were struggling due to the eliteís leadership. Joseph Heath wrote on the In Due Course blog about Ford supporters who supported him because he could address their concerns, while they felt ignored by people who were part of the Toronto establishment. Whether in the U.S., the United Kingdom or Canada, the problem has been much the same. Many people feel left behind by the changes happening today, whether in terms of immigration or trade. They donít think the established leadership and elites care about their problems. When they voice their concerns, theyíre often attacked as racist, small-minded, unable to compete, etc. How much of an effort have political movements, particularly on the left, actually made to try and engage these peoplesí concerns? Sometimes they do in addressing the economic issues that people have raised, but in turn itís drowned out by voices like Bolen and Williamson, who end up making everybody who could be associated with them look bad. Iím not a fan of Donald Trump or Rob Ford, but I can see why people support them. That sense of being neglected and looked down upon is whatís so frustrating. People support Trump or Ford partly to get back at the elites, and partly because they donít think other candidates and movements care about them. The question, though, is how do more mainstream movements and parties actually address the issues of Trump or Ford supporters, and make them feel like their concerns actually matter? This article was originally published in the St. Albert Gazette on September 7, 2016 and is available online at http://www.stalbertgazette.com/article/Trump-and-Ford-appeal-to-the-disenfranchised-20160907.

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  1. Fri Sep 30, 2016 1:43 pm
    Good article. Rob Ford's mayoralty was the direct outcome of David Miller and the condescending left-wing Jane Jacobs cultists he surrounded himself with - people who couldn't even make a food truck program work without turning it into a bureaucratic mess and whose contempt for the old municipalities of Scarborough and Etobicoke was plain to see. That's why even when the Ford brand was ultimately rejected, Toronto voters still ensured that the Milleresque candidate placed third. Trump is a slightly different animal, but clearly also represents a middle-finger to establishment figures from both parties and both sides of the political spectrum. His biggest asset in the election is that he gets to play Happy Gilmore to the Shooter McGavin of electoral politics - "I'be worked hard my whole life, paid my dues, and now it's Shooter's turn. And Shooter's not about to let his reign at the top be spoiled by some freak, sideshow, clown."

    Well sorry Shooter, I mean Hillary, but the clown is giving you a run for your money. Maybe David Miller can put in a good word for you at the World Wildlife Fund.

  2. Fri Sep 30, 2016 2:19 pm
    Just for the record, the food truck/cart fiasco is due to city council, not the mayor's office.

  3. Tue Oct 11, 2016 12:02 pm
    The other thing about Trump (which was also somewhat the case with Ford) that drives politicians like Hillary nuts is his ability to get away with saying exactly what he thinks on any topic. Politicians at that level learn to hide their narcissism and lust for power behind a feigned humility and benevolence. Hillary, like Donald, clearly hates vast swaths of the country she's looking to lead. They just hate different swaths. But she can't get away with venting her spleen and openly targeting groups the way he can. She got in trouble for the "basket of deplorables" comment. Similarly, Obama had to hold back on his obvious disdain for suburbanites (an attribute shared by many of Ford's foes) and let his policies do the talking for him in that regard. Trump breaks the rules with impunity, and that has to get under the skin of a candidate who clearly thinks she's smarter and better than all but a select few of the voters in her country.

  4. Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:30 am
    "Individualist" said
    The other thing about Trump (which was also somewhat the case with Ford) that drives politicians like Hillary nuts is his ability to get away with saying exactly what he thinks on any topic. Politicians at that level learn to hide their narcissism and lust for power behind a feigned humility and benevolence. Hillary, like Donald, clearly hates vast swaths of the country she's looking to lead. They just hate different swaths. But she can't get away with venting her spleen and openly targeting groups the way he can. She got in trouble for the "basket of deplorables" comment. Similarly, Obama had to hold back on his obvious disdain for suburbanites (an attribute shared by many of Ford's foes) and let his policies do the talking for him in that regard. Trump breaks the rules with impunity, and that has to get under the skin of a candidate who clearly thinks she's smarter and better than all but a select few of the voters in her country.


    While I don't disagree, I would ask what the difference would be between someone like Ford or Trump and Ezra Levant. I both admit and regret the fact that Levant disgusts me, not so much for what he says (and he's been right on some issues, like the advantages of Canadian oil and the absurdity of the human rights commissions) but he's such an arrogant, pompous jackass that comes across as though he'll hate you for the rest of his life if you dare to so much as breathe a syllable of disagreement.

    Whether he's engaged in nonsensical rants about the Trudeau family's sex lives, or writing out temper-tantrum columns after the American voters defy his election predictions, Levant doesn't come across as taking dissent or criticism well. Watching the Ford brothers' appeal fizzle out in the last Toronto election even before Rob got sick, as well as watching Levant become more known for being proven a liar by the very bride whose honour he was supposedly defending than for any legal or political victories, I am left wondering how sustainable the approach is.

    My intent in writing this column was to point out to the pundits whose articles I cited just why so many people are going for the Trumps and Fords of politics. Doesn't mean the Trump/Ford approach is necessarily any better, but I fully understand why people support it, and I sure as hell don't consider them all stupid, racist, or what have you for doing it.

  5. Thu Oct 13, 2016 11:52 am
    "JaredMilne" said
    While I don't disagree, I would ask what the difference would be between someone like Ford or Trump and Ezra Levant. I both admit and regret the fact that Levant disgusts me, not so much for what he says (and he's been right on some issues, like the advantages of Canadian oil and the absurdity of the human rights commissions) but he's such an arrogant, pompous jackass that comes across as though he'll hate you for the rest of his life if you dare to so much as breathe a syllable of disagreement.


    The difference is that Trump and Ford are/were politicians running for public office. When Trump was simply a real estate hustler with a reality show occasionally spewing conspiracy theories about Obama, that "tape" of him saying degrading things about women wouldn't have had nearly the impact that it did. After he stepped down as president, nobody cared about Bill Clinton'a sexual activities until his wife became a serious contender for the White House. Nobody would have cared about Rob Ford's drug or "eating" habits if he hadn't been mayor of Canada's largest city at the time. We hold elected leaders to a higher standard than commentators like Levant.

    That having been said, I agree with you about Ezra. He's the Heather Mallick of the right. Both are arrogant, pompous bullies who spew hatred and then wrap themselves in a cloak of victimhood when they get called on it. And even if I agree with him on many things, I can't condone his behaviour while at the same time condemning Mallick's. A plague on both their houses.

    But here's something to take comfort in. Neither would be elected as leaders if they ran.

  6. Thu Nov 10, 2016 2:23 am
    There's clearly a lesson for the Toronto Star editorial staff. Stop sending in Daniel Dale to take down a politician you don't like. It never works out.

  7. Sat Nov 12, 2016 2:46 pm
    Another Ford/Trump parallel, Trump was helped as much by people unironically using the term "flyover country" as Ford was by people who use "Scarberia" similarly.

  8. Sat Nov 12, 2016 10:29 pm
    As much as I disapprove of Trump, one of things I'm glad about in the result of the US election is the refutation of that well worn union mantra "I've put in my time." Because let's face it, Hillary's claim to the presidency was based on "seniority".

  9. Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:09 pm
    Gee, we haven't heard from the gasbag in a while. He must be upset about the last of the Soviet dictators shuffling off his mortal coil. And I'm sure any vindication he must feel about Trump's victory showing just how awful those Americans are is offset by the dread of another wave of Americans crossing the border and bringing their pestilence of liberal individualism with them. But hey Robin, I'm sure Justin would give you a nice eulogy too, if he knew who you were.



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