What is at Stake?

With the recent Rob Ford scandal that has plagued the politics of Toronto one still lacks the perspective of what is at stake when a crack smoking clown can become the mayor of one of North America’s largest capital centers. Even the most intelligent commentaries on the situation fail to acknowledge the systematic failures in place to have allowed this to happen. What this clown has done was simply act as the displacement to what is truly at stake here: that the premise of the Western Democracy has to be re-evaluated. The situation is still largely focused on the very individual, Rob Ford and his ever increasing scandals and lunacies, and yet the subject of the very democratic system that put him in power lies completely un-criticized. Here Democracy is still the role of the sacred cow; completely untouchable. Society still presupposes that the system is flawless, it is just this crack smoking clown that has ruined everything. This is not in defense of Rob, but to point out the flaw of the logic of the situation. The very fact that Toronto has a completely incompetent crack smoking mayor running as normal already reveals the flaw to this mode of thinking. What the true horror is in the situation is not that Toronto has a crack smoking mayor, but that Toronto has a crack smoking mayor and nothing happened. This very point brings to light the very uncertainties, the things that western democracies have largely taken for granted, that keeps the system running be it for the benefit of society or to its very detriment. If Rob is not the one who is running the city, then who or what truly is? What is the true role of the mayor? How much does the people’s vote and voice actually count for anything? These are only the very surface of the questions that needs to be answered and as each inquiry becomes addressed more uncertainties resurfaces further questioning how much the system is actually working; or more to the point, how the system actually works regardless of what is presented to the public. The very rhetoric used to represent Rob, to fuel the arguments and debates, even at this very movement there are still people willing to provide Rob with support reveals the true struggle that is taking place. Why is it that it is the suburbs versus the city? What does that classification represent, who is represented? Why is Rob known to be against what is called the “liberal elite”? The class struggle goes on fully expressed without acknowledgment. What is at stake is precisely what is missing in the situation, the missing element that escapes the very present debates. The truth to the situation lies in the very logical exaggerations. If for instance Toronto had Ford’s very inverse, a brilliant revolutionary gets voting into mayoral position is change even possible? The very powers that have put Rob, a crack smoking clown, in power (and keep him in power even despite everything that has happened) will be the same powers that would operate the government even with a new revolutionary mayor. As pessimistic as this sound, even with a revolutionary mayor the most likely changes people can see would be a few more bike lanes, but true change would be far out of reach. “Don’t hate the player, hate the game”, cheesy as this statement may be, it full captures the paradoxes and deadlocks of the situation. Without addressing the very class struggle that is taking place, the antagonisms get expressed and acted out within the political stage. Even if Rob is removed from office, the very problems that brought him into office still exist and needs to be addressed. Without acknowledging what is actually happening, the true problems that are at work, and being distracted by this clown, it would only be a matter of time until Toronto votes in another crack smoking clown; how long will it take our current fast pace, tabloid loving, media consuming, scandal addicted generation to forget another clown, one must take this critique seriously. The truth of the matter is the “game” is being played as it should be played, these flaws, or more like allow transgressions are part of the western democratic political game. When will one see a proper critique of democracy itself? The very limit of democracy is democracy itself. Complete representation is an impossibility. Within democracy there will always be those whom are marginalized, this very failure is at the core of this system that society refuses to address. Every tax dollar spent on one thing means a dollar not being spent on another, it is not theoretical or philosophical; it is reality. Unless the game radically changes there is always going to be crack and someone in a high political position to smoke it.