The Herd Effect

Wandering through Toronto, you can't help but hear the horror in the realization that this Rob Ford has a 43% rating in the popularity polls leading up to the Toronto mayoral election this fall. This election is his to lose, even if he's been trying hard to lose it.

I had two realizations about this.

First, if Toronto is anything like Ottawa then what is going to happen is that largely the same councilors will be re-elected, resulting in a populist mayor who is both an idiot and largely ignored by council. Ford will end up saying a lot of silly things but having no real effect on what happens in the city -- except that if he runs for re-election in four years, he'll take credit for anything positive which happens in the meantime.

Ottawa's been here already, and his name is Larry O'Brien.

Secondly, it occurs to me that this is what happens when the previously disinterested population gets interested in politics -- they get attracted to the bright shiny(*) who offers them simplistic solutions to complicated problems, and they vote as a herd.

Maybe the intellectual elite need to re-think this whole "engaging the voters" thing.


(*) = no judgment on hairstyles implied.