A few week ago PostMedia columnist Andrew Coyne wrote an article excoriating the simplistic and mean-spirited politics underpinning the type of conservatism championed by Toronto mayor Rob Ford. While catching up on my reading last night, I found an editorial in the Focus section of the Nov. 23 Globe & Mail that articulated pretty much the same thesis.
Titled “Rob Ford, non-conservative”, the editorial opens with this paragraph:
Rob Ford has been stripped of much of his power and, according to the latest polls, he’s likely to lose next year’s mayoral election. Rob Ford the man is much diminished. But Rob Fordism, the idea, endures. It’s an ideology of resentment, bitterness and negativity. It is politics by dumb slogans rather than considered principles. It is the conservatism of “No.” If Canadian conservative parties, and Canada, are to prosper, they – and we – have to rise above it.
The Globe & Mail goes on the lament how politicians like Ford delight in demonizing their opponents and branding them as enemies, asking at one point “Is the future of conservatism government by enemies list?” . The term “enemies list”, of course, recalls the revelation last summer of a PMO initiative to draft enemies lists for incoming cabinet ministers in the Harper government.
For a certain type of politician, or brand of corrupted conservative ideology like the Tea Party in the United States, such an strategy might pay short-term political dividends. But at what cost to the long-term well-being of our society? As the Globe & Mail observed, “[Ford] and his advisors have sought to channel and inflame a certain group of angry voters. Seeking to address voter rage is one thing; aiming to embody and feed it is another.”