When I went off to bed last night, I’d already heard the news, but I woke up wondering if maybe I’d only dreamed it. That’s just me in a nutshell. Always figuring that things will work out for the best. I bet on Vegas to win the Cup too.
Winston Churchill is often quoted as having said that democracy is the worst conceivable form of government, except for all the other ones. He’s also alleged to have said that there’s nothing more disheartening than five minutes of conversation with the average voter. Winston has a lot of things pinned on him, like Mark Twain, and he might have said neither, but in any case both statements seem endlessly relevant – except that lately, even for we glass-is-half-full types, it’s getting easier and easier to sympathize with the latter sentiment, and harder to hold fast to the former.
Because, yup. It’s Doug. Doug Ford. No dream. No fooling. In the Premier’s office. With a majority.
Maybe the inevitable comparisons to Trump are facile. Sure, Doug is likewise pretty much a comic book character, like some sort of unsavoury bobble-head doll, and he’s prone to the same sort of ridiculous campaign promises, grandiose and transparently meaningless, but he’s probably not really in the same league as Orange Hitler. He might be a bigot, but he knows he can’t get away with that in fiercely multi-cultural Ontario, so even if he is, he keeps his yap shut about it. Mostly. He’s also probably a misogynist, in a garden-variety sort of way, but he knows better than to make a big deal about that too. Of course he’s as dumb as me arse, just like Donald, and those that really love him, the hard-core denizens of Ford Nation, are probably just as thick as all those knucklehead Trump supporters; but if you’re feeling optimistic like I am, it’s easy to conclude that the installation of Doug as Premier has very little to do with the Trump phenomenon, or even with the juvenile hopes and dreams of his most ardent supporters. People were just bound to toss out a 15-year-old government, that’s all, and voters continue to dislike women, so that put Andrea Horwath behind the 8 Ball from the get-go, besides which everybody believes that the NDP will raise taxes, and who votes for that? Just about anybody at the helm of the PC party – well, anybody with a Johnson – would have waltzed into Queen’s Park this election season. So we got Douggie.
God damn the PCs for making him leader, though, and God damn that idiot Patrick Brown for being such a typical male and letting his diddler yank him right into the political shitter – though, would Brown really have been better as Premier? How come? Who says? – but once they strapped him into the leader’s chair, all porcine and sweaty, Douggie was destined to head our next government. We all knew it. Deep down, we all knew it, even when the NDP looked to be making a run at it for a minute there.
Besides, Doug ran a pretty smart campaign. Unlike a lot of guys, he read the manual and followed the instructions. It’s not that hard, turns out. Just complain that things suck, make the usual promise to simultaneously cut taxes, raise spending and balance the budget, promise that the economy and everything else will thrive, add in that nobody on the government payroll is going to lose their job – gotta keep the public sector unions happy! – and otherwise steer well clear of policy and stuff a sock in it. OK, maybe add something about sex-ed and how the schools are promoting godless pre-versions, but then stuff a sock in it. Works every time. Honestly, I don’t know why anybody running for office would do it any other way.
We’ve been through this lots of times. You know, maybe Doug will just be Mike Harris redux. Remember Mike Harris? Yeah, me neither, I had to Google “List of Ontario Premiers”, and there he was. Look:
He was the architect of the Common Sense Revolution, maybe that rings some bells? This involved cutting social spending, slashing taxes, laying off nurses, downloading services to cities that couldn’t pay for them, and running up deficits. Like he said, common sense. I was reminded that he was also the one behind all those omnibus “Red Tape Reduction” acts, the point of which was to amend so many things at once that nobody could even keep track, much less debate the changes. They often had names that obscured what they were actually about, like the Better Lawns For Greener Grass Act, which amended securities legislation and did away with clean water regulations. Or something like that. Mike was a meat head, of course, but he sent everybody cheques for $200.00, so that was good. I spent mine on overpriced cans of Pringles that the pirate at the local convenience store had marked up to something like four bucks, which was a lot for 20 years ago, I think it’s even a lot for 2018, but who cared? Free money! They called it a “taxpayer rebate”, which was risky, since somebody might reckon that if it was a rebate, then she must have already paid it to the government in the first place, so it wasn’t really free money, but nobody followed the bouncing ball that far.
Anyway, maybe Douggie and his crew will just be another iteration of Meat Head Mike and the Common Sense Revolutionaries. In that case we know what to expect: we’re in for about eight years of cruel and misguided policy that attacks everything that’s fair and decent while trying to make the province more attractive for rich people and businesses, and lots and lots of tax cuts, and general snarkiness toward everybody that couldn’t have been cast as an extra in Leave it To Beaver. That’s all. The usual conservative schtick. We’ll probably have to do without the Premier at the annual Gay Pride parade, and we’ll have to watch some more infrastructure crumble, but we can live through that, right?
I don’t know about democracy, though. I guess it’s still the best of a bad set of choices. It keeps producing outcomes that are no better than letting a chimp pick the government by throwing its poo at an oversize dart board, but at least this means that the current moron will eventually lose his job, and maybe even be replaced by somebody worthwhile, one time out of a hundred, ‘cuz the poo has to hit the bullseye once in a while. I was hoping for more, but I always want too much out of life, I’m a hopeless optimist. Ask anybody.