Early in our history, Quakers were successful in business because of our integrity. In a field dominated by dishonest and manipulative practices, Quakers’ simplicity and honesty was a breath of fresh air. Could the same approach work today in politics?
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I would say that Friends really need to stay engaged. That’s the whole point of being Quaker. You don’t just believe these things and live in the world but don’t participate in it. Friends have these beliefs, live in the world, and actively participate. That’s what makes us Quakers.
My Life as a Quaker Political Campaign Manager
My name is Hannah Jeffrey and I live in West Philadelphia. I grew up Quaker and I’m originally from Richmond, Virginia. I work in politics.
Working in Politics
I think a lot of people hear that I work in politics and they think House of Cards or Scandal, and it’s not that glamorous. It’s more like Veep or Parks and Recreation. I like to say that for every fancy gala that I go to where I wear a cocktail dress and drink champagne, there is about a hundred different nights where I’m not at a gala, I’m in a Wawa parking lot eating dinner and then going to an event that’s being held in a church basement.
How Quakerism Inspires My Politics
Specifically working in electoral campaigns and in politics, you’re going to work with a lot of different types of people, which is one of the great things about working in politics. I think one of the reasons I’m good at my job is being raised to believe that there is the Light in everyone.
So being raised to see that of God in other people, to see the light of God in other people, is one of the things that has helped me to build trust with people so easily. I think I have a reputation for building trust with people really quickly, and being really upfront about what’s going on with me.
Integrity in Politics
As a Quaker, integrity really informs my work in politics the most, and it’s funny because I think a lot of people have a preconceived notion that in politics there’s not a lot of honesty. For me, my word is all I have. Knowing that I think you can get a lot more done if you hold yourself accountable to honesty and hold other people accountable to it as well.
Engaging in Politics in the Modern Era
Friends talk about the testimonies. They talk about the testimony of equality, the testimony of integrity, of peace. Those are all things that are impacted by legislators. They’re impacted by policy. It might be tempting for Friends to say, “I want to wash my hands of this. This political system that we’re in doesn’t seem right and I want to stay out of it.” But I actually think that now is the best time to lean in.
It’s the best time to engage, to not just vote—although you should definitely do that—but to actually start showing up to local activist meetings, to local chapters. There’s so many options right now. Integrity isn’t about not participating. Integrity is about doing the hard thing that is the right thing.
- How do your beliefs and faith as a Quaker influence the way that you show up in political conversations?
- Hannah Jeffrey says that “it might be tempting for Friends to say, ‘I want to wash my hands of this. This political system that we’re in doesn’t seem right and I want to stay out of it.’ But I actually think that now is the best time to lean in.” Do you agree? What opportunities do you see in our modern political landscape for Friends to have a positive impact?
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.