The Other Side of Life: Strange Bedfellows

By : Jason Leclerc
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The excessive spectacle surrounding our recently-passed statesman and war martyr, Senator John McCain, came as little surprise. To the disinterested observer, that the vast and broad anti-McCain rhetoric questioned his status as a hero and his credentials as a statesman was nothing if not predictable. To an observer who’d lived on a planet outside of our galaxy since 2016, the epithets and animus coming from McCain’s own party might have been shocking.

For the rest of us who’ve observed the takeover of that party by an unprincipled impostor—a POW belittler and recent Democrat himself—nothing remains that can shock us. The most visceral post-mortem disdain was shoveled out from a hole deeper than the Everglades-are-wide by folks who’ve overtaken a Grand Old Party that once nominated McCain for the presidency. Liberal institutionalists came to his defense alongside institutional Reagan-Bush conservatives. Strange bedfellows, indeed.

We need moments of somber reflection to remind us that we share a humanity—an Americanness. Even more, we need to see our political institutions coalesce around an idea that may be wrapped in the body of a dearly deceased friend. We need to witness gestures like the passing of a butterscotch down a pew between retired First Ladies. We need to remember, and hold tight to the re-insurgent perpetuity of McCain’s brand of compassionate, common-ground, country-first conservatism and that it can intersect with compassionate, common-ground, country-first Democrats.

In a time in which factionalism was at its zenith—and which ultimately led to Civil War—Walt Whitman, America’s greatest poetic voice, imparted:

I am satisfied—I see, dance, laugh, sing;

As the hugging and loving bed-fellow sleeps at my side through the

   night, and withdraws at the peep of the day with stealthy tread.

For the LGBTQ community, our relationship with Whitman sings cantatas for how we approach our bed-fellows. We, Leaves-of-Grassers, are inclined to lead with love and with a celebration of our similar tendencies (literally and romantically). Fear may seek to separate us, but if we can’t find common verse then the song of Whitman has fallen upon deaf ears.

Whitman’s song of America remains truer than ever. What was, in his day, a surreptitious type of relationship founded in the beauty of human form and hidden behind multi-entendre, survives today with pride: dance, laugh, sing.

We are the progeny of strange bedfellows.

Just as World War II drew American democratic idealists into brave perseverance alongside communist puppets against Nazism; just as 9-11 pulled Americans of various political persuasions together into a common cause against violent, radical, religious terrorism; just as John McCain’s passing reminded us

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