The important part of the Rob Ford story isn’t Rob Ford

It’s Ford Nation.

Who [at time of writing] are seemingly standing by their man, in effect flipping the bird to the rest of Toronto as well peeing on their own, you know, purported “common sense, small-c conservative” values – “Hey, he may be a crack-smoker who hangs out with criminals on a regular basis in between drunken stupors and lies about it…but at least he’s not a communist.”

“Communist” is short-hand for anyone “not us.”

Tribal politics. How democracy ends.

UPDATE: Brad Plumer interviews Dennis Pilon, a political scientist at York University, in the Washington Post:

The profile of Ford Nation is a good indication of our political times. There are these alienated populist voters who are often just lashing out. They’re typically not well-integrated into political system, not well integrated into their communities. They tend to not have as much money as median voter and aren’t always as informed on the details of politics.

So one of the things they do is that they end up identifying with politicians personally. So part of Rob Ford’s appeal is that he does make a lot of mistakes, he does speak improperly. And when his critics attack him, that just reinforces the support among alienated populists who also feel that they don’t always speak properly, that they make mistakes.

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