Ignorance of the Right

Reading idly through the Globe and Mail, I encountered this from (ultra right-wingnut) Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s Deputy Mayor: “My advice to the taxpayer would be: Don’t send us any more activists, don’t send us any more unionists. Don’t send us any more cyclists, send us some people down here with good common sense who just want to manage the city’s affairs” (Ford loses key vote that puts his contracting-out agenda in peril, April 10 2011).

The ignorance here is stunning, and a great example of either brain-dead thinking or attempted manipulation. This guy, one Doug Holyday, seems to believe that the vast majority of “taxpayers” are just like him, but for some reason frustratingly keep selecting those darned nutty activists, unionists, and—gasp—cyclists (who, by implication, aren’t taxpayers)—to “send” to city hall to make his life miserable. Maybe they’re doing it as a prank!

Of course, a pretty central concept this guy doesn’t seem to understand is that we elect people who actually represent us in government. Another is that he’s actually one of them, and he was “sent” there as well; he and his band of conservative compatriots doesn’t “own” government. He seems to assume that his position is safe and he’s just waiting for the voter-idiots to wake up and populate the rest of government with people just like him.

“Common sense” is one of the most overlooked and dangerous phrases in politics, and I’ve seen it invoked increasingly frequently (unsuccessful Vancouver mayoral candidate Susan Anton used it in her campaign last fall). “Common sense” is essentially carte blanche: nothing these people want to do needs justification or data; it’s—obviously—just so. Well, it’s just common sense that the world is flat, isn’t it?

I’d really like to know whether these anti-science, anti-evidence, and ultimately anti-people politicians are unhappy, uneducated, or just think they can fool the rest of us.

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