I have resisted writing anything on the death of Rob Ford. I am -- perhaps -- the least objective commentator on the late former mayor of Toronto. But, last week, Rick Salutin wrote a fair assessment of the man and his followers:
Terms used to describe Ford Nation include ordinary Canadians and average guys. But that’s statistically inaccurate and something else is implied: what once were called commoners, plebs, masses; they’re who Ford connected with. He never condescended to them, he was incapable of that. He felt too far down the pole himself, socially and, it seems, in his family, where he was youngest and least smart. He made a virtue of that by not looking down on others.
The elites in the United States have been condescending to ordinary folks for decades, and they have produced Donald Trump -- who sounds like Ford on steroids:
Trump is a similar figure but so different. Trump condescends to everyone, even if he too is heavy with neediness. But people at his rallies can’t identify with him: he affects such superiority. He floats (or flies) far above them. He gives crap to the people who condescend to them and they love him, or at least pay him homage, for it. But it’s not the love his Nation bore Ford, who’d never have waxed on about his own personal beauty or brilliance, or having one of the best brains I’ve ever seen etc.
You’d never find Trump alone in a fast food place, blasted out of his skull, doing island accents. And you’d never hear Trump say he must’ve tried crack “in one of my drunken stupors.” That shows far more self-awareness, even irony, than Trump ever has. Give the edge to Rob Ford there. In fact when it comes to right-wing populist demagogues, I’ll take ours, may he rest in peace, any day.
In the end, everything caught up with Ford -- the bombast, the crack, the erratic judgement, the intemperate lifestyle. There are no signs that Trump will meet the same fate.