The organized grassroots

Tony Keller profiles Nick Kouvalis, political strategist behind Rob Ford and the founder of Respect for Taxpayers.

Respect for Taxpayers is one more step toward a politics of permanent election, in which elected officials are constantly pressured, attacked or influenced by opponents who don’t sit next to them or across the aisle at city hall, at Queen’s Park or in Parliament. It’s also a move away from parties as the sole vehicles for politics, to a politics that is more and more outside of the legislature, in what 19th-century British parliamentary reformers called “out of doors.” Unlike those in the early 19th century, who were on the outside because they didn’t have the vote, today’s out-of-doors groups are there by choice. It’s easier on the outside—you can spend as much as you like, and your fundraisers don’t have to wear straitjackets. Going direct to voters may even deliver greater influence.