Tuesday, November 19, 2013

On The Perils Of Retirement



As a retiree, I occasionally think that maybe I have too much time on my hands - too much time to follow politics, especially its more sordid aspects which, sadly, seem to define almost all politics today. National, provincial and municipal affairs appear beset with a kind of self-indulgence and selfishness (perhaps the two are synonymous) that, I believe, is wreaking havoc on the social health of the nation. Federally, we see a government mired in corruption and seething with contempt; provincially, a rabid and pervasive partisanship seems to have the public good as only a distant afterthought; municipally, we have the spectacle of a scorched earth policy being practised by Toronto's chief magistrate and his brother. Something is indeed rotten in the state of Denmark.

I do not live in Toronto, but anyone who thinks that the damage being done by the Ford follies is confined to Ontario's capital city is deluded. Putting aside all of the criminal and unethical acts he seems to partake in, the mayor's absolute refusal to see council's stripping of his powers as anything other than politically-inspired renders him manifestly unfit for public office, since clearly the demands of his and his brother's egos take precedence over the stability and well-being of the city of Toronto. But what about the fact that this debacle is being watched closely nationally, even internationally?

Despite their obvious intellectual limitations, I am convinced that on some level the Ford brothers must know that their insane antics are deeply corrosive to everyone's faith or trust, however slight they may be, in politicians everywhere. As but one example, they must know, yet they do no care, that reducing yesterday's council meeting to little more than a tag-team wrestling match, complete with the obligatory cat calls to the spectators, removes any dignity that one might associate with public office.

I am posting no video here of yesterday's events, but anyone so inclined can find them easily enough on the Internet - video of the Fords with Peter Mansbridge, on Cnn, and with NBC's Matt Lauer. To watch any of them will confirm the abject narcissism of the Ford brothers, but they will also probably consolidate a cynicism and disgust that only the insensate could be immune from. I can't bring myself to post them

The true irony here is that there really is only one solution to the wholesale destruction of politics taking place at all levels: voter engagement. But the longer the selfish, the ignorant and the mercenary dominate politics, the less and less likely it is that significant numbers of people will be willing to get involved, even if it is only to go to the ballot box, to stop the madness.

I am not at all hopeful about the future we are leaving to succeeding generations.

8 comments:

  1. As a retiree, I used to look forward to the next generation doing a better job than my generation did. The problem is that the Fords represent the next generation, Lorne -- and, like you, I am not optimistic about the future.

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    1. Having reached the age where we have a fairly wide context with which to evaluate life, Owen, it is a sad that the contemporary world offers little real basis for any real hope.

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  2. As another retiree, I do appreciate why many working people do not engage themselves in politics as much as they should. Hopefully, they do catch enough of the stench of corruption that they will vote intelligently in future.

    Having said the above, one positive thing that might have come out from the Ford debacles is that it has shown us that the Ford and Harper Nations are essentially the same. These are the people who appear to want to pay as little as possible into the system but are not shy to avail themselves of as much as possible as they could get from the system.

    In other words, the only good tax is the tax my neighbor pays.

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    1. So true, Anon, and exactly why the promotion of such a narrow and selfish agenda is so corrosive politically, socially, economically and spiritually.

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  3. Lorne, I too worry about public disengagement from the political sphere but I blame the stunted political apparatus for most of the problem. Those people who have turned their backs have plenty of concerns and outright worries. It's just that the political classes no longer speak to their concerns, no longer present to them meaningful visions of what the future could be for them and their children.

    You'll have to go back a while but look at those periods in the past where the electorate was engaged, energized. You'll have to go back well before Canada transformed into a corporatist, petro-state.

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    1. I continue to have the thought, Mound, that government's lack of responsiveness to the concerns of the electorate is quite purposeful and Machiavellian. The more they can alienate the voters, the greater chance their is that only their true believers will vote, thereby giving these renegades free reign.

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  4. It is a distressing situation all around. However, some people are saying that Ford is destroying the reputation of Toronto. I don't think so. The day he is gone as a mayor and city council he will become a footnote and so will his brother.

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    1. I hope you are right, LeDaro. Without question, the longer these guys are around, the worse it is for everyone. I have a feeling the Ford brothers are planning much more mischief before they leave the scene.

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