Friday, January 26, 2007

All Politics is Local

Talk to any old political hack, and being employed by a politician, I talk to many, all will tell you that at the end of the day there is one truism in politics - all politics is local. The veracity of such an outlandish generalization was indeed proven to be true when I became a good friend with the infamous New Brunswick Moose Lady while working on a [National] political campaign. The Moose Lady's political endorsement was to be given to the politico who supported her bid to fence in the New Brunswick highway system [shout out to my peeps Cathy "moose lady" McCollum, what up sistah?!]. Foreign policy? She didn’t really care. Quebec as a nation? Even less interest… Mention the moose campaign to the participants of the 9:30 spin class at the Village Fitness and the most likely reply would be: "Moose? You're talking about the yoga pose right?" Uhm… sure.
Every so often the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star, the two major papers of note in this berg, devote a fair bit of coverage to the city's homeless problem. Following said expose [perhaps Jan Wong embedded as a panhandler at King and Bay? Royson James squatting underneath the Gardiner!?] the chattering classes will click their tongues at dinner party's, Margaret Wente will write a column about how she couldn't care less about the homeless because as a Baby Boomer blah blah blah, and some local celebrity, perhaps the wife of a prominent business person, will show up at a soup kitchen and lend her name to a new save the homeless mission. WHEE!!
In the long-term no one gives two shits and the city's homeless problem becomes an endemic feature to the downtown landscape, because the people with political clout in Toronto live in the Faux and or RosedAle. There are no homeless people in these two affluent neighborhoods - they are on the fringe of the downtown and as such exist as manicured bubbles cut off from the urban environment, isolated from the social woes South of Bloor.
For the first time in my memory, however, I have noticed a [disturbing] trend. There are now two panhandlers who sit on opposite sides of Spadina and Lonsdale asking passerby’s for spare change. The juxtaposition between the morning spin classes at the Village Fitness, where one can hear shouts of: "give it one more shot ladies, push it harder!" interspersed with Nelly Furtado's Promiscuous, and a the cries of a panhandler, "spare some change" is jarring. So jarring that I've seen a couple of people spill some non-fat latte on their lulu's.
The first morning I noticed the newest Faux Hillary's, my preliminary and honest reaction, was: "homeless people? in the Village? how disturbing". But why disturbing? Disturbing because there are homeless people in general, or disturbing because there are homeless people in my pristine hamlet of society. Truthfully, I'll admit it was the latter. I’m pretty awful.
If all politics is local - and I venture to say it is - then looks like we're bound for the next round of homelessness exposes [someone get me Christie Blatchford please]. With both the editor in chief of the Globe and Mail and Andrew Coyne, National Post columnist, frequent fliers at the village Starbucks, the two panhandlers in the Village may prove to have the biggest impact on the collective conscious of this city, after all homeless people don’t raise property values.

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