“#RobFord is the perfect picture of our age: capitalism in its underpants, slouched drunk on the couch saying “what r going to do, leave me?” — Naomi Klein”
A point that keeps coming up in the never-ending Rob Ford train wreck is that the man was elected. He wasn’t open about his crack use pre-election, nor had he referenced cunnilingus in a press conference. But he was recognizably the Rob Ford we’re seeing in all of this mess, even then.
And a popular majority of Torontonians — one of the most cosmopolitan centres in the continent — put him in office.
Because they saw themselves in him.
Because he is us.
Rob Ford is a personification of our society.
He was born into prosperity.
He’s a substance abuser.
He’s disdainful of media that doesn’t confirm his point of view.
He’s in denial about his problems.
He’s determined to cling to the power and privilege he enjoys.
Most importantly, he’s in denial about his pain — or perhaps unaware of it. The root of substance abuse isn’t the physically addictive properties of the substances. It’s the chronic emotional pain of the user, which the dopamine influx of a stiff drink (or 12), or a hit of crack, temporarily relieves. As Dr. Gabor Maté writes in In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, this pattern is often witnessed in the obese as well. Foods high in sugar, salt and fat provide a very similar dopamine rush. The same pattern is seen in those addicted to power.
Someone born into a wealthy family, who succeeds in the family business and then attains a prestigious political office seems to have the best possible life. So why repeatedly escape it by drinking oneself into a stupor? For the same reason successful musicians commonly do it. They hurt. Theirs is a deep and chronic emotional pain they’re unaware of, or unwilling to deal with.
How different are the rest of us? The yoga/biking/organic produce segment commonly over-consumes and self-medicates with substances. Most of us grew up in families separated from the extended social networks in which our species evolved. Our families were stressed and fragmented. We aren’t equipped to deal with our problems, and usually don’t see our problems as problems. Stress is a part of life, what’s the big deal? Of course I live across the country from my parents. I work late all the time. I need to to keep up with all these bills. The world’s collapsing, but what can I do about it?
We’re doping ourselves numb and plunging our heads in the sand, which aligns us with the last point about Mr. Ford:
He’s going down. As tenaciously as he clings to his position, his allies are leaving him. Even Rex Murphy and the Toronto Sun have said the game is up. He can’t seem to see it. Or he won’t accept it. He’s likes the position he’s in. He won’t just give it up and walk away in shame. He won’t let go of the elements of his life he’s come to think of as his right, until they’re forcibly taken away. When they do, he’ll rail at the injustice of it all, furious that the ride came to an end.