Voter turnout delivers real people's verdict in Toronto election

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I support voting for the most politically experienced and best representative of our diverse and aspirationally inclusive city, the daring one who is explicitly caring, the unapologetic policy wonk and artist, the bicycle pedaller and community convener, the youthful grandmother warrior, Olivia Chow.

But I think we need to realize that there's something even more important in this race than whether Chow or John Tory is elected the next mayor. It is us.

The main and most important thing about this election is getting your ass out to a polling station and voting.

Seriously, your ballot has the power to be an act of redemption for the worldwide psyche. Why? People from everywhere marvel at just one question when they think of Toronto: "Who would give power over anything, let alone the city, to Rob, not to mention Doug, Ford? Doug is not even the funny one."

Many of us are used to being disappointed and even revolted by politicians, but experiencing how an out-of-control addict and proven repeat liar can face no real consequences and continue to receive the love from his fans -- that goes beyond politics all the way to psychic trauma. It places the Rob Ford era into a historical social psychology nightmare. There is one simple way we can finally answer back. It's a little item on our agenda for Monday (October 27).

At the end of the day, voter turnout will be the story that delivers the real people's verdict on the Rob and Doug reality show. That's the kind of social response that polls simply can't tally.

And if we really move ourselves and our circles to vote, that kind of social behaviour can put Doug Ford where we want him, in third place at the bottom of the barrel. We need to redeem our political culture from the debasement that has been the Ford experience.

I'm betting that fellow urbanites have figured that out. And the turnout at the advance polls -- more than doubling the numbers from 77,000 in 2010 to over 161,000 -- affirms it. We're set like never before to see a democratic surge October 27.

Last election, only half of those eligible turned out to vote. That gave a huge amount of power to Ford-lovers. This time around, the ground game come election day will look very different.

Yes, the Fords still have their inexplicable special sauce and celebrity status going for them. But they have no professional election organization getting out the vote. That crew, most notably Nick Kouvalis, has moved to the Tory camp, which will be formidable.

The election day ground game is where Chow's campaign will also shine. When it comes to pulling the vote, there's nothing like NDP grassroots organization. Chow's huge and committed volunteer base is preparing for a massive effort.

I care about making smart personal and political choices every day that don't ignore real-world outcomes. The same is true of the one rare day when I head into a polling booth. I strategize.

For my tax money, Chow is far and away the best candidate for mayor, but she's in that tricky third place spot. But in these last days, her star is rising and Doug's is falling.

Lots of people are reportedly voting strategically for Tory this time because they want to take no chances with Ford. But I'm voting for Chow because I have faith that Torontonians are not going to let this one pass them by. Voter turnout is going to be the wild card that will take Ford down.

This election is a truly special one.

It really comes down to a question of who we the people are. This is the one question we need to settle after the unbelievable ride we've had with the Ford family trauma. How strong is Ford Nation, and who are we, the citizens of the city, who somehow allowed this to happen? It's time for the people of Toronto to reveal ourselves to ourselves and to the world.

And that's also why it is important to support the candidate who actually reflects who you are.

If enough voters don't turn out on election day to send the anti-social misanthropes to the lowest place on the public totem pole, then we have learned nothing from the Ford fiasco of these last four years.

On the other hand, if we vote in droves beyond the imagination of pollsters and pundits, we will slay the Ford dragon and be positioned to make the city great once again.

This column was first published in Now Magazine.

Photo: postbear/flickr

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