Strange Bedfellows of American Autocracy

strange bedfellows

America’s torrid affair with autocracy produces strange bedfellows. Here’s a contrast of two distinct groups I sat with this past week. Neither has significant appreciation of the other. And neither would accept that they are enabling autocracy.

These two groups are an unwittingly powerful combination. Certainly, they are one of many. The broad point is that autocratic trends and supportive behaviors are woven into every element of the social spectrum.

Certainly, there is good and bad within all of us, and we all need to care for each other, to make us individually and collectively better. Here I generalize with respect to the groups; nothing is offered in relation to any individuals.

Strange Bedfellows Group #1

One group assembled in the Pekin Community High School for graduation in small town Illinois. As the scoreboard shows, that was on the evening of May 20th. There was awareness and some nervous talk beforehand regarding school shootings. They packed the gym. There seemed to be a man’s T-shirt contest for the most angry in-your-face gun advocacy. As always, PCHS did a great job.

PCHS gymnasium, where one of the strange bedfellow groups assembled.
PCHS gymnasium May 20 2022
PCHS grads May 20 2022

On May 24th, before I sat with the second group, we had the Uvalde killings.

Strange Bedfellows Group #2

I met with the second group on the morning of May 25th, the day after Uvalde. For the second time I attended a men’s group within a delightful Birmingham, Michigan, community center. Birmingham has its share of the rich and famous (not me).

This was a group of eight, there to talk, including self and another newbie. In relation to the fresh shootings, half referenced their gun support and expressed concern with so many mentally unstable shooters. This was a real-time revelation of the GOP talking points that I then heard all day long over the media. These are well-heeled professionals and business owners. These gents were more concerned with getting back to Ukraine war coverage. A link was shared to the latest insights on election fraud. They did not want to talk about child psychology or the war economy.

Striking contrast of effort toward the same dead end

The groups I experienced this past week were extremely different on a social economic basis. Note there was no Black presence, just a white-on-white simmer. Neither group is uncaring, far from it. In their distinct ways they try to justify and carry on. They seek to enhance their human experience. But one group is more desperate than the other and one is used by the other.

Democracies can only fend off autocracy when they can break away from indifference, ignorance, power lust, and/or a weakened people. America can no longer assume supreme privilege and ignore that the country is ripe for the taking. So, we could too easily be the next country to use its democratic election to bring in a dictator.

Shakespeare had so many things right, like this notion of strange bedfellows. Maybe the strangest bedfellows are the two political parties, working in violent agreement, thwarting the people and weakening the country at every turn.