The Rob Ford story isn't really about crack or poor leadership - it's a story of systemic privilege, the most dangerous form.
I admit I've been enthralled by each new chapter in the epic Ford drama, but the narratologist in me fears it's a distraction from the real story about the costs of privilege.
In many ways, we are all contributing to a system that has done Rob Ford and others like him a grave disservice. Just think of the number of public officials, celebrities, religious leaders, coaches and aspiring Reality TV "stars" who have crossed the line without appropriate social admonishment or reprimand.
For Ford and other privileged people, this is very dangerous. The combination of access, an audience and exemption from consequence has created what I refer to as "magical thinking."
I don't mean that it's associated with spiritual beliefs, nor is it what many scientists would refer to as irrational ideation. It's also not the kind of hopeful thinking that helps individuals transcend difficult situations or imagine a better world.
The form of magical thinking I'm talking about is the kind that arises from a sense of unhealthy entitlement, questionable judgment and lack of accountability.
But make no mistake, Ford is not alone. Consider recent political debacles precipitated by the actions of others entrusted with the public welfare: the e-health affair, the multi-million-dollar Ornge air ambulance scandal, the gas plant fiasco and the senators who stuck Canadian taxpayers with almost $200,000 of inappropriate housing claims.
While Ford may be an easy target and a compelling character, his story is just one of many, linked to a larger meta-narrative exposing the growing number of leaders whose inflated sense of self has led them to deny their public accountability. While we're entangled in the mayor's alleged drug-taking, DUI charges, domestic set-tos, conflict of interest claims, poor social etiquette and radio show ranting, we're deflected from other important city business.
If Ford decided to spend his time and talent working for his family's successful label company, he could exercise poor judgment and magical thinking all day long. However, as an elected official, he's required to check both his privilege and his magical thinking at the door to City Hall. The problem is that many people born to wealth never develop the skills and insights required for accountability.
And why would they? As a society, we've over-empowered them by minimizing their infractions and in some instances crimes; we've stroked their egos by propagating their mini-dramas through social media and other communicative channels and tolerated behaviour that would never be acceptable for the vast majority of us.
Like many, I hope Mayor Ford will step down and seek the help he seems to need. At the same time, it's important to remember that his story is one of many in a system that abuses our trust and tax dollars to perpetuate privilege. So rather than standing in glass houses throwing stones across partisan lines, let's think of strategies for holding our elected officials to higher standards of accountability and excellence.
Jay Pitter is a senior marketing communications specialist.