Apparently floor crossers do exist in the United States, for one of their former Democratic Presidents has been accepted into the fold of the Conservative Party of Canada.
How did a retired US President swear fealty to King Stephen of Calgary Southwest? No offence to Canada, but I’d have to say, serving in Parliament is a bit of a step down from being in the White House. Unlike Congress, Parliament doesn’t think for itself—it has party leaders for that! Nevertheless, the unthinkable has happened. One of America’s most liberal, best loved, and eloquent Democratic leader has crossed the floor (and the border) to become a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party of Canada: Josiah Bartlet.
President of the United States of America from 1999-2007, Jed Bartlet was the fictional Leader of the Free World on the television show The West Wing. This Emmy award winning political drama about the workings of the American and International political system focused on the daily lives of the staff in the West Wing of the White House. Bartlet was played by Martin Sheen, who is now starring in a remake of one of Canada’s best loved television shows Anne of Green Gables. Bartlet (Sheen) plays the role of the quiet, shy, teetotalling PEI farmer Matthew Cuthbert, who along with his sister adopts the titular character from an orphanage in Nova Scotia.
… What? You thought a Democrat had actually crossed the floor to the Republicans!? Nothing that horrid would happen, at least not before the seven signs of the apocalypse (although I do think an NDP victory in Alberta counts as one). Further, why would either Bartlet or Sheen join Herr Harper in Ottawa?! Please… like a US President needs to stand for Parliament in Canada. With our fearless leader, Washington basically runs us anyway! Even Hollywood Actors have more sway then most MPs; look at Jane Fonda!
However Sheen, erm, Bartlet’s character Cuthbert is a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party, or as it was known at the time, the Liberal-Conservative Party. Insert gleeful cackling from NDPers here, and shudders from Liberals (or Grits as they were known) and modern day Tories. Yes, to “vote Conservative was part of Matthew’s religion”—so it will be interesting to see how good olde Democrat Jed Bartlet embraces his inner conservative to properly portray this role! His young charge, in the incorrigible way children will be, will also have to play out the part of the Conservative darling—for (as Anne announces) if Matthew is Conservative, than so is she! Please bear in mind, this book was published in 1908—it was hard enough for men to imagine women would have the vote, let alone lead governments! Spoiler alert: fortunately for us, Anne will eventually marry Gilbert (whom she insists is a Grit, or Liberal) and thus one of the many reasons she doesn’t like him originally. Perhaps she warmed to the Grits by the time she married her beau.
Matthew however is set in his ways and (spoiler) won’t live long enough to convert to being a Grit himself, thus leaving America’s first floor crossing president stuck, as he crosses the border onto Canadian television screens. Lets just hope the movie directors opt to leave out this discussion of politics (as occurred in the original novels and first tv series) out of the new one which Sheen co-stars in. Elsewise I may not be able to think of President Bartlet the same way again!
Were Bartlett a real person and were he to actually run to lead a Canadian Party and then run for Prime Minister—whichever party he belonged to— he would win by a landslide victory. It would be quite the change, dealing with a pliant Parliament instead a stubborn opposition Congress. But where’s the fun in that?