2022: The Aftermath – Part 1

Imagine that these dreaded midterms are over.

What happens next?

As to the electoral results “que sera sera,” what will be, will be. No predictions will be offered here, except this one:

Whatever the outcome, I am dead-sure it will not be the end of our national time of trial. Win lose or draw, the authoritarian forces will still be busy, expanding on the battering ram impact of their captive Supreme Court, using it and Congress to buttress and expand minority rule in and beyond the so-called red states.

Even if progressives win some key races, I expect they will still feel, and be, largely on the defensive.

Further, as soon as the polls close on November 8, the political and media focus will shift to the next horse race in 2024. That struggle will surely be momentous, and the chatter about it nonstop. But here I’ll mainly ignore it.

Instead, I’m going to consider the 2022 aftermath from an insular, even sectarian perspective, that of my faith group, the Quakers, or Religious Society of Friends.

Actually, this standpoint is even more insular: my home is among what are considered “liberal” Friends, or “LibQuakes”; and they (we) are but a splinter of a splinter — a droplet within a drop in the big leaky bucket of American churches.

Quakerism is rarely of more than passing interest, except to those who stay in our circles. And there may be no more than 35,000 of us “LibQuakes” nationwide (our statistics are sloppy and unreliable). We would fill no more than half a dozen middling megachurch auditoriums. For that matter we are heavily outnumbered by the evangelical, largely MAGA-oriented “Friends churches,” which are branches off the same religious root-stock, but have essentially banned the term “Quaker” because we liberals would not let it go.

Altogether, U. S. Quakers/Friends hardly number much more than 100,000, and we are scattered and politically insignificant. Of the 435 seats in the U. S. House of Representatives, I am unaware of even one, the fate of which hangs on the “Quaker vote.”

Also, once there were Quakers among the wealthiest Americans. They could buy or rent politicians like others of their class. Now, while most LibQuakes are comfortable, and some rather well-heeled, I don’t know of any who play in the league of Peter Thiel, the Kochs, or other oligarch dispensers of dark money.

Nowadays the pinnacles of our worldly presence in the U. S. are in the service sector. They encompass a couple dozen semi-elite prep schools, a handful of once-upon-a-time-but-you’d-hardly-notice Quaker colleges, and a string of high-end retirement villages — all kept afloat by catering to affluent, overwhelmingly non-Quaker clienteles.

Our political obscurity is easily measured: In 2022, millions of dollars will have (again) been spent on efforts to steer the “Catholic vote.” For my “Quaker vote,” though, I’ve not been offered even a half-empty bowl of oatmeal.

There are numerous other groups, religious and secular, in a similar obscure plight; so perhaps some non-Quaker readers will find some value here. Which brings me back to the starting points of these reflections: the disciplining reality of our electoral insignificance; and yet a paradoxical potential for influence and meaningful witness despite it. I’ll look more closely at that next time.

2 thoughts on “2022: The Aftermath – Part 1”

  1. Thanks for this pondering. I think Friends have been, are, and will be called to service due to political strife resulting in great suffering. The measures will be extreme. The sacrifice and surrender will be large. And meeting for worship, as it has for centuries, will anchor and wash us.

  2. Yup and I hope you share in the next section any thoughts you have regarding the social and political influences on and from the self-identified “Quaker organization” AFSC and of course the first religious lobby in DC, FCNL. Both of these orgs have in the past had influence and made leadership contributions ‘way above what would be typical of orgs their size and base. Will that punching above their weight continue? Will the orgs, particularly AFSC, maintain much spiritual or interpersonal connection to the LibQuakes? Will LibQuakes maintain or expand upon their previously outsized influence on American political and social movements? Do LibQuakes still live and actively promote the Social Gospel, and vigorously live out the SPICES testimonies, or are they tending more back to quietist fellowships of increasingly gray-haired retirees and navel-gazers?

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