Listen Up! Both are populist politicians but if you had to choose between Trump or Ford, who would you choose?

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Hugh Mackenzie Huntsville Doppler

Hugh Mackenzie
Huntsville Doppler

Trump vs. Ford

The death of former Toronto mayor, Rob Ford, last week brought back many memories of his time in public life. There is no doubt that he was a provocative figure. He was also, at times, a scoundrel, a drug addict and a drunk. There are many, however, who will say he was a good mayor of Toronto in spite of all of that, and that it would have been a real horse race if he had been well enough to run for re-election against the current mayor, John Tory. To me it is a bit of a conundrum. Here is a clearly flawed individual and yet one who has a huge following. Many people, across all Party lines, just seem to have liked him, warts and all.

One of these people is Doppler’s Grant Nickalls, who wrote a compelling and moving piece about his brief encounter with Rob Ford. It shows another side of the former mayor, one seldom covered by the media: friendly, accessible and engaging. And so, it begged the question for me, was Rob Ford a good person who sometimes did bad things, or was he a bad person, who from time to time did good things? It also occurred to me that the same question could be asked about Donald Trump, now heading for the Republican nomination in the United States.

All of this led me last week to ask a friend a question, and here it is: If we lived in a hypothetical country, and we chose our president from only two candidates (as they usually do it the U.S.) and one of those candidates was Donald Trump and the other was Rob Ford, which one would you vote for? My friend, seldom short of words, found it a very interesting question.

Both Trump and Ford have a history of being bombastic. Both come across as bullies from time to time. They are also populists who appeal to those who generally do not like government and believe that the political system is broken. Both are relatively conservative in their political thinking and both have had controversial private lives.

There are differences as well. Ford, although a wealthy man, is a pauper compared to Donald Trump’s alleged fortune. And yet the taxpayer’s dime was always front and center for Rob Ford. As a city councillor he never charged any expenses to the City, the only member of Council not to do so. As mayor, he became well known for shooting down spending proposals that he believed were not a good investment of taxpayers’ dollars. He seldom failed to return an e-mail or a phone call and in fact maintained a call sheet at his bedside almost to the day he died. He made it a point to be seen and heard by the less fortunate in Toronto. He connected well with the ‘little guy’ and that is why he enjoyed the support of so many of them in spite of his very checkered background.

Donald Trump on the other hand has connected more with the anger in people as opposed to their personal despair or circumstances. He can be generous, but it is sporadic such as paying off a man’s mortgage because he came to his aid on the highway. There is no question that Donald Trump has much more business experience than did Rob Ford, or for that matter, than any of the other presidential candidates, both Republican and Democrat. There are two sides to that, of course. One of the highlights of the endless political debates in the States for me, was when Trump was asked whether, with four corporate bankruptcies to his credit, he was the best person to fix the glaring loopholes in the current American tax system. Without batting an eyelid, his answer was essentially, Why not? After all, he had worked every angle of the system to his advantage for his entire career, so who better to know how to fix it? Uh…okay?

Donald Trump also has a very keen mind and an ego to match it that is an important part of his brand. He is also street smart and knows what buttons to push to get people on side.

And so, now I ask you the hypothetical question I asked my friend last week. If in an election for the leader of your country, you could only vote for either Donald Trump or Rob Ford, which would it be? Pretend you can’t duck the answer by saying, ‘none of the above’!

On another note, it has turned out to be a beautiful Easter weekend. Make the most of it! Happy Easter!

National Post photo

12 Comments

    • Brian Thompsosn on

      But on the other hand Ford would fix those damned potholes that has Liz so shaken up. And maybe buy the Town a different coloured truck.

  1. There are some things that badly need saying in this country these days but under present leadership there isn’t much chance they will get said. Trump would say things loud and clear for better or worse and the ensuing debate would be good for us all. Ford’s unfortunate side show would be a distraction from the important discussions we need to have. Trump’s disdain for political correctness
    is just what we need to debate issues which are being ignored or bungled presently. He would give Canadian politics a needed lightning bolt.
    So I vote Trump!

  2. Donna Flotron on

    Don’t make me choose between bad and bad. I need to be inspired by my political leaders. If not I can’t vote.

  3. Rob would be a lot less dangerous on the world scene unless Doug was calling the shots. But perhaps Sarah Palin would be an advisor to Donny. Ford for Prez , Gerald’s offspring !

  4. Jean Bagshaw on

    Trump or Ford, Ford or Trump…tough one.
    Ford knew that he was a flawed human being and did apologize for his failings, eventually. He had the best interests of the people at heart. He had positive goals and worked toward them.
    Trump, on the other hand, seems to believe that he is perfect and would deny any suggestion to the contrary. He would likely counter-attack and eliminate the person who would be so bold as to accuse him of any failings. He has the best interests of “The Donald” at heart and at any cost, no matter how much he needs to deceive to achieve that goal.
    Hmmm…I’d vote for Ford.

  5. Dale Peacock on

    I see Rob Ford and Donald Trump as quite different from one another . I would only vote for either of them with a gun to my head but since we are just fantasizing here – one is dead and the other an American – let’s look at it.
    Ford repaid the loyalty of his followers in very tangible ways, not the least of which was that he’d pick up a phone and take a call from any one of them. Trump demeans his followers by mocking them to their faces with comments like, “I could shoot someone in broad daylight and you’d still love me.”
    They share a common outrageousness but I see Ford’s as mostly self-destructive while Trump’s is mostly self-aggrandizing. One could feel for Ford even while considering him an ignorant lout but it’s hard to get past pure loathing for Trump’s racist, divisive and misogynist ways. As I see it Ford almost didn’t know any better while Trump most certainly does.
    Both men have tapped into a burgeoning dislike for the status quo and they’ve inflamed tensions of race, class and gender by claiming to be the only ones that tell it like it is. The shrinking of the economic pie has stripped the working class of its sense of solidarity and it’s been easy for Ford to convince them that problems can be solved by his union-busting thuggery. Trump is a demagogue who just appeals to people’s baser instincts to win and hold onto his following.

    So….gun to my head I would vote for Ford. Besides, as Mayor of Toronto he held no more power than any other councillor whereas Trump would have the power to blow up the planet tomorrow. So while Trump would be a dangerous, unmitigated disaster, Rob Ford’s actual ability to do harm was fairly limited.

  6. Ford or Trump, like has been said, interesting.
    There are only two things wrong with Trump’s plans.
    One, is that he can’t come through and actually do what he says.
    Two, is that even if he could the plan would not work, that is it would not achieve the goal he has set for it.

    Why do we always seem to have to choose between two “poor choices” based on which candidate is “less bad”?
    What happened to the positive?

    I worry about Trump more than I ever did Ford as the US of A is a lot larger than rinky dinky Toronto and the potential damage to the rest of the world from the leader of the US is greater than any local mayor.

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