By: James Di Fiore
I was at a bar a couple nights ago when a fellow patron began to list all of the things Rob Ford has done while mayor of Toronto. No, this list did not include drunk driving, crack smoking, anti-gay slurs or oral sex references pertaining to his wife. No sir, this list was the serious list of accomplishments Ford had allegedly been responsible for since he took the helm of our fair city. It included getting rid of the vehicle registration tax, the ‘billion dollars in savings’, and privatizing half of the garbage collection. It was the same list Ford had been shamelessly repeating for months.
Normally I try to avoid members of Ford Nation. In fact, aside from exchanging a few barbs in the virtual world, I tend to shy away from engaging with anyone who supports Rob Ford. I find the process exhausting.
If Rob Ford is in a rehabilitation program, he will be beginning the process of trying to find his ‘truth’. Actors do this every time they step on stage, and the concept is a fairly common one where you let down your guard and allow the authentic self to shine through. By removing our masks we can get a better handle on why we escape through substance abuse, and the people in our lives that influence us to go back to using substances. These bad influences are generally known as ‘enablers’.
In Rob Ford’s world of infinite second chances and non stop praise from his loyal group of supporters, there’s really only one conclusion a professional can draw; Mayor Ford’s base, otherwise known as Ford Nation, are merely thousands of enablers who keep the embattled politician on the path to destruction.
This guy at the bar was no exception. On and on he went, lifting Ford high onto a pedestal built out of returned phone calls and recycled talking points. I shifted in my seat and tried to remain indifferent as to avoid the typical kind of back and forth between a member of Ford Nation and a sane person. But after a while, I couldn’t help myself.
“Are you aware that your unconditional support for this man is the main reason he gets inebriated?” I asked while pouring my Guinness. Irony not dead!
“Aw come on, don’t pretend he isn’t a good mayor!” he replied, completely ignoring what I said.
“You just did it again, bud. Your refusal to see his demons are the very reason he still has them,” I said.
“You’re saying it’s my fault Ford drinks? Well good! He needs to relax once in a while like everybody else!” he replied.
“Do you know any drunks?” I inquired. “Do you know people who shouldn’t drink or who get drunk all the time?”
“Yes,” the man replied, “Me!”
He thought he was the funniest man alive. I thought he was the best case study thus far of why Mayor Ford is a stumbling substance abuser. In short, his supporters are not big believers in the damage alcohol and drugs can cause an individual who has ‘the disease’. In fact, I bet if you told them alcoholism was a disease they’d laugh at you.
There are a few different kinds of members of Enabler Nation. There are the folks who have received a phone call or personal visit from the mayor. These are the victims of relentless retail politics. Next, there are the good folks who see themselves in the mayor. These folks likely share a penchant for illicit substances and are as equally hardheaded when people suggest they try and get some help. Next, there are the conservative ideologues that probably don’t care one iota about the mayor and his problems, but believe he will usher in a conservative manifesto against a council full of ‘libtards’. Ideology trumps good health, don’t you know.
But lastly, there are the foam-finger waving, slogan shouting, self-centered constituents who have chosen as their champion a divisive, bombastic, cartoon-like personality with a substance abuse problem. They are anchored to this man and through blind loyalty keep him at his worst. They are enablers in the worst sense of the word, and as long as they drown Mayor Ford in undue praises and retriever-like loyalty, he will never, ever fully recover.
In doing so, this troubled man from Etobicoke may not survive Ford more years.