Love him or hate him. Agree or disagree with his politics. What you can’t deny is the thousands of people who showed up at Rob Ford’s funeral and celebration of life when he passed away recently at age 46 of cancer. Most politicians would never draw that kind of following. Especially after a public downfall.
He was flawed, but so is every human.
Most of us are not doing hard drugs, however I believe we all have a chapter in our life story that no one reads but us. For Mayor Rob Ford, it was all hanging out for the world to see.
I think what resonated with those who voted for him and supported him was the fact that he was what he said he was politically. He was a representative of the people. When constituents called, he called back. When they had a problem he listened and tried to fix it. His campaign promise was to stop the gravy train. And although some would argue he cut too many services, the fact that he was chastised by other politicians for not spending enough tax payer money showed that he was walking his talk.
As we sit and watch the election process unfold with our American neighbours, and see the tabloid stories break about many “family values” politicians around the world, we can see what Aesop meant when he said, “We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.”
So many politicians say one thing to get your vote and do something completely different once they’re in power. It’s a rare thing to see a politician who truly fights for the little guy. Even with his demons, Rob Ford must have done something right for his voters as they supported him so strongly even when he was falling apart personally. They remembered how he made them feel.
At his funeral, his brother Doug spoke of a night when Mayor Ford was eating at a local Subway. The shop owner, working the night shift by himself, got a phone-in order and realized he couldn’t deliver it because he was on his own. Rob jumped up, paid the $32 for the order, and said he would drop it off with the customer. He later said that not only were the people surprised at the delivery man, but he met four new supporters, and they gave him a three dollar tip. Talk about grassroots campaigning.
In a world where as Texas Guinan once said, “A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country” it’s kind of refreshing to think there are people out there who truly want to be a voice for those who don’t have one.
Winston Churchill once said, “Politics is almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times.”
Rob was in the line of fire often during his time in office. He faced his addictions in the public eye, he continued to go to work during chemotherapy, and the voters he impressed remained by his side to the end.
Whether you supported him or not, may his story inspire all of us to be engaged in politics, to do research during elections and, above all, to vote.
As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”
RIP Rob Ford.