Letter: Channeling Henry Clay

To the editor:

I am writing in support of Readers’ Advocate Jo Sullivan’s advocacy of consensus building in Lynn government. Indeed, I would extend the concept to all of government, where even lip-service to the value of consensus, especially at the federal level, has been absent in recent memory.

I am reminded of my ninth grade (65 years ago!) American History teacher, who cited Henry Clay as the best example of a politician who built his success by working for compromise (i.e. consensus).  

She also emphasized how important this quality is for a democratic (the process, not the party) government to be effective. A fine, and obviously memorable lesson. I would like to think it is still being taught in public schools at the ninth grade level. Perhaps Ms. Sullivan can comment on that, as well.

Clay represented a slave state, Kentucky, before the Civil War, so it would be easy to criticize him as an example of compromise. I believe the more appropriate view is to respect the process of consensus negotiation by which Clay delayed the onset of that most bloody of all American battles.  

If his attempts at consensus had not been ignored by the secession of the southern states, perhaps we could have made even more progress without a war back then, with the ongoing struggle for equal rights for all. Ongoing is the key point and, possibly, the most responsive to consensus.

Ed Myskowski

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