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Strange Bedfellows

The term “strange bedfellows” describes politicians with seemingly opposing ideologies or interests who form an alliance for a specific political objective.

Origin of “Strange Bedfellows”

The term comes from Shakespeare’s The Tempest when a storm causes Trinculo to seek shelter under a sheet with Caliban, whom he regards as an enemy. “There is no other shelter hereabout: misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows. I will here shroud till the dregs of the storm be past.”

Over time, this phrase has evolved in its usage. In modern contexts, especially in politics and social commentary, “strange bedfellows” refers to an unusual or unexpected partnership between people, groups, or entities who typically have different beliefs, goals, or viewpoints.

The implication is that circumstances have brought together these unlikely allies, much like how the storm in “The Tempest” forced Trinculo into a bizarre situation of sharing his shelter with Caliban.

These alliances often arise out of necessity, driven by the desire to achieve a specific policy outcome or electoral victory, despite deep-seated differences on other issues.

Such partnerships can be temporary and fragile, with each party aware that they may part ways once their immediate goals are met.

Use of “Strange Bedfellows” in a sentence

  • The recent coalition between the two opposing political parties, traditionally at odds with each other, truly exemplifies the idea of strange bedfellows coming together for a common cause.
  • In a surprising turn of events, environmental activists and big oil companies have formed an alliance, proving that politics indeed makes strange bedfellows.
  • The bipartisan support for the new infrastructure bill, uniting politicians from vastly different ideologies, is a classic example of strange bedfellows working towards a shared goal in the political arena.