Trevor Potter returns to Chautauqua to speak on threats facing democracy, opening week

When it comes to speaking at Chautauqua, this isn’t Trevor Potter’s first rodeo — and there’s always been a common theme to his lectures. 

In 2016, Potter delivered the July 4 oration at Chautauqua, titled “A Republic — If You Can Keep It.”

“We’ve been honored to have Trevor here at Chautauqua, and have always been humbled by the significance he places on addressing issues of our democracy,” said Matt Ewalt, vice president and Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education. “There’s the need for reform that will take the work of us, the citizens.”

Ewalt said it’s important to consider the value Potter — a lawyer, president of the Campaign Legal Center and former chairman and commissioner of the Federal Election Commission — places in engaging the Chautauqua community in his work.

“We’ve really wanted to partner with him in that larger work, in building a stronger democracy,” he said. 

At 10:45 a.m. Monday, July 25, in the Amphitheater, Potter will give a lecture on “The Crisis Facing American Democracy,” providing a comprehensive overview of the issues facing our democracy, launching the Week Five theme, “The Vote and Democracy.”

“I think particularly this week, we looked for voices that would not only bring deep understanding of the issues we’re facing, but also for expertise and experience in what it means to be confronting these challenges and looking at potential reform,” Ewalt said, “but also, someone who is not only a strong communicator, but someone who recognizes and priorities a broader dialogue with the broader public.”

It’s that combination of skills and priorities on Potter’s part that make him such a strong fit, Ewalt said.

“He’s really going to be laying the groundwork for our week together in Chautauqua,” he said.

When it comes to speaking about America’s elections and democratic process, Ewalt said there’s no better voice to have than Potter’s.

“He’ll kind of tee up these larger issues around voting rights, redistricting, electoral college process and campaign finance,” he said. “He’s going to ask some of those larger questions that we’ll need to keep front and center throughout the week.”

Ewalt said that Chautauqua is “truly honored” to have Potter back on the grounds.

“We’re so happy to have him back, especially because of his desire to brief Chautauquans on the issues facing all of us today,” he said.

Tags : Homepagemorning lecture

The author Chris Clements

Chris Clements is reporting on literary arts during his third summer with The Chautauquan Daily. He has previously written previews for the Interfaith Lecture Series and Sacred Song Services and covered literary arts digitally in 2020. Chris is a second-year grad student at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he is a Master of Fine Arts candidate in creative writing, specializing in fiction. He’s passionate about all things related to literature, music and film, especially author David Foster Wallace, jazz singer Cecile McLorin Salvant and the films of Paul Thomas Anderson.