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Founding principles must endure

CHAUTAUQUA — Those at Chautauqua Institution during both ends of the Independence Day weekend experienced the gamut of summer weather.

On Friday, the skies opened up, and it poured.

On Monday, it was sunny and sweltering.

Either way, the view from the porch at the historic Athenaeum Hotel – and many other places at Chautauqua – is beautiful in a way that both locals and visitors can appreciate.

A local resident arrived early for an event in the Athenaeum on Friday, July 2.

Sitting on the porch, he met a couple from Pittsburgh. The two had come to Chautauqua 35 years ago and were returning for the first time.

The wife volunteered that although she and her husband aren’t fans of President Donald Trump, they’re “very conservative people” and are willing to vote for a Republican for president in the future.

They cited 2008 and 2012 GOP presidential candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney as ideal candidates.

Nevertheless, the husband said he voted for President Barack Obama twice.

If the couple were members of Advocates for Balance at Chautauqua, or ABC, the couple’s combination of views might well not exactly put them among the majority.

Yet on the whole, ABC has many members who are, among other things, cheerful, determined, and welcoming. Everyone is welcome at ABC events.

Which isn’t surprising.

ABC was formed in 2018. Its mission is “to achieve a balance of speakers in a mutually civil and respectful environment consistent with the historic mission of Chautauqua” Institution. ABC is its own Section 501(c)(3) organization, legally separate from the institution.

The organization kicked off the Chautauqua season with a reception on Friday, July 2.

The organization’s first speaker of the season was on Monday, July 5.

Unlike in 2020, when all speakers addressed ABC only via the Internet, 2021 speakers are also in person.

So far, speakers are scheduled for 3 p.m. each Monday in July, plus Monday, Aug. 2, and Monday, Aug. 16, in the Athenaeum parlor. The schedule is at https://www.abcatchq.com.

According to ABC, free destination-gate passes are available at the entrance to the institution for those attending events in the Athenaeum, including ABC events. Parking is available across Route 394 from the institution’s main gate. Normal parking charges apply.

For syndicated columnist, author, and radio commentator Cal Thomas, the first ABC speaker of 2021, the Athenaeum parlor was full.

Thomas fired off several points during his half-hour presentation.

Yet his essential point was that for America to endure, America’s founding principles must endure.

Thomas recalled that President Abraham Lincoln feared the crumbling of the United States from within more than he feared an invading army.

We must continually renew America’s founding principles lest they expire, Thomas said.

Constitutional republicanism isn’t the norm of humanity, and we ourselves are our greatest enemy, he said. If we take things for granted, we won’t survive.

When it comes to Trump, Thomas is in sync with those who are with the 45th president on issues and – to put it politely – less so on the style he sometimes evinces.

Although Thomas said he isn’t a fan of Trump’s personality, he lauded him for pushing back against the establishment.

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An ABC public forum is at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, July 24, in the former Immanuel Lutheran Church, now Real Life Church, 556 E. Second St., Jamestown. According to ABC, the purpose of the forum is to reach out to the community (as Chautauqua Institution itself has particularly endeavored to do in recent years), to share ABC’s mission at Chautauqua Institution, and, even more importantly, to listen to local residents’ impressions of Chautauqua Institution. Local residents are encouraged to attend.

Dr. Randy Elf’s Aug. 20, 2020, ABC presentation is at https://works.bepress.com/elf/21.

ç 2021 BY RANDY ELF.

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