Newspapers are dumped on my doorstep middle of the night these days like fresh collections of horror stories. It’s as if they should arrive wrapped around slabs of fresh meat. I bring them inside warily and many mornings I’ve hidden them from the kids. He did what? He said that? Really? Again?The writing may be bracing and scathing and it’s often really quite brilliant, but most days it’s depressing too. I read it with my toes curled and can’t wait to toss those pages in with the empty egg cartons and juice containers.
At times like this I tend to narrow the focus. Local is about all I want to handle: work, mostly, and friends and family, the farmer’s market at the Memorial Centre, The Screening Room, a hike in Frontenac Park, the gym, the occasional trip to Toronto to see a show or a band.
Lately I’ve been reading a few posts by candidates in the municipal elections, thinking it must surely be the safest and blandest of news environments. I’m looking to see who’s engaging with voters and who’s taking things for granted. But even in this, usually the most milquetoast of competitions, it appears there is a mad fringe. I’m talking of course about the belligerent candidacy of Mr. Byron Emmons.
I’d never heard of the man before last month, but he’s running in the King’s Town district where I live, and so I suppose I’ve tuned in a little more carefully to his platform pronouncements, as well as his unusually vituperative schtick.
He’s running against Rob Hutchison, a decent, if underwhelming incumbent. Some good competition wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to Mr Hutchison, but I fear that’s not going to come from Mr Emmons.
Emmons, it turns out, is a combative screamer who dreams, as far as I can tell, of two things: building gleaming parking garages downtown, and of the perfect rapier-like comeback in one of his endless social media skirmishes. On Twitter a few days ago he snapped angrily at a voter, accusing her condescendingly of not understanding supply and demand after she had made a perfectly reasonable comment, and that insult coming after he’d already wilfully misinterpreted another remark. The impression he made in just a very few lines was distinctly unpleasant - he came across as bullying and snide - but it also seemed worryingly self-destructive. He’s out there ruining his own chances.
He has also railed at considerable length against those who would organize public all-candidate meetings, seeming desperate to avoid appearing before an audience (not a winning character trait for a would-be politician), but also coming across as aggressive and even paranoid.
Perversely, the person most likely to benefit from this bewildering foray into local politics is his opponent. And while that’s no disaster, not by any stretch, it’s also a sad waste of money, and public attention, and opportunity.
It is so odd a campaign from Emmons, in fact, that it resembles more than anything else a mean-spirited sort of performance art. An anti-campaign. Perhaps there will be an admission or an announcement of that sort in the coming days. But I doubt it somehow, and at this point even that would leave me feeling cheated. The best we can do I reckon, is ignore him, both now and on election day.