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'People often mistake confidence for competence'
Posted July 8, 2019
Doug Ford and Donald Trump are not the same. Trump is far more venal and mendacious. But they do share many character traits. To a considerable extent, they are cut from the same cloth.
Both grossly over-estimate their capabilities. We learn from the studies of Professors Dunning and Kruger that highly competent people tend to underestimate their abilities, while grossly incompetent people wildly overestimate theirs. People often mistake confidence for competence and folks who overestimate their abilities are nothing if not brimming with confidence. Most people have endured the spectacle of seeing the least competent worker promoted to positions of leadership. Dunning and Kruger give us some understanding of the strange phenomenon that sees the wrong people always being in charge.
I watched the debates leading up to last year's provincial election and was struck by how very knowledgeable both Kathleen Wynne and Andrea Horvath were on every file. Their grasp of the issues, their clear understanding of the challenges facing Ontarians and the policies that would address those challenges were practical, doable, fully costed and clearly articulated.
Then there was the figure of Doug Ford. Woodenly, he stared into the camera after every question and repeated the same thin policy statements again and again. "Friends, help is on the way." "We'll have a buck a beer." "Beer in corner stores!" "Friends, my government will get rid of the job-killing carbon tax and put money back into the pockets of the little guys." The same lines were repeated over and over to any and every question.
It was clear to me he had no clue whatever about what really matters to ordinary citizens of Ontario.
Both Ford and Trump like to surround themselves with sycophants and be lauded and praised by all and sundry. Ford hired actors to appear at his campaign events. Their "role" involved clapping and cheering at everything Ford said. They were also engaged to cheer so loudly they drowned out reporters' questions. Now in the Provincial Legislature, all Conservative MPP's must leap to their feet and cheer loudly every time Ford makes a statement. These MPP's have no honour, no self-respect, no dignity in my view. If you don't leap up high enough or cheer loudly enough, you are thrown out of caucus. That was the reason given for ousting Randy Hillier out of the PC caucus. He didn't cheer and jump up enough. He wasn't loyal. He wasn't a team player. Loyalty matters more to Ford and Trump than speaking truth to power or competence in a field, or intelligence or creative ideas.
For a man who loves being roundly applauded at his every utterance it was an irony of kharmic proportions that Ford has been booed recently at the Special Olympics, the Collision Conference and the victory celebration for the Toronto Raptors. I guess he couldn't hire enough paid performers to drown out those crowds.
Both Ford and Trump demonstrate contempt for important features built into a healthy democracy which are essential for it to function fairly and properly. Trump is refusing to co-operate with Congress whose role in oversight over the Executive branch was intended by the founding fathers to replace the Parliamentary role of the Official Opposition. Ford does not answer many questions in Question Period when opposition members have the opportunity to challenge the government on policy decisions. Asked about the future of ambulance services, for example, Ford responds by bragging about his "buck a beer" policy or ending the "job-killing" carbon tax. The Official Opposition is effectively stonewalled and their role in our democracy subverted. Dutifully, his MPP's leap up and cheer. Standing ovations, for every utterance are de rigour in Parliament now.
Finally, both Ford and Trump were born into wealth and privilege and yet ran as populist candidates who claimed they only had the ordinary, little people's interests at heart. "I am your voice!" "For the People!" Then when they came into office both cut taxes for their wealthy friends and cut services for those little people they supposedly cared so much about. Siphoning off resources from ordinary people to direct more money into the pockets of the already wealthy will do what to address the income Inequality problem? Well, don't the Westons need more money? The Thomsons? The Bronfmans? They need more money so obviously we have to do without teachers, library services, public health, child care and environmental protections.
Three more years seems too long a time to be led by such a bragging, obnoxious, incompetent buffoon. Oh and yes, I'm talking about Ford, not Trump. I do not believe Ford sinks to the level of corruption exhibited by Trump. He is merely a smaller version of Trump: surrounded only by those who will show obsequious servility, who will cheer with giddy happiness his every utterance. Like Trump, Ford shows contempt for democratic norms and conventions. Above all, both Ford and Trump are wholly incapable, by lack of knowledge, lack of curiosity and lack of intelligence, to properly fulfill the great responsibility of their offices.
Barbara Delargy is a retired English teacher currently living near Everett. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org