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The Fourth of July

Independence Day. It comes every year. Some of us do cook outs, some watch fireworks, some feel pride, some feel anger, some rejoice, and some let it pass. Some, get reflective. And that’s what I do. I have tortured my children yearly by reading the Declaration of Independence to them to start our Independence Day celebrations. Not parts, mind you, but the whole Declaration, including the list of King George’s transgressions. I’m not sure why or how I started doing our family tradition, but it remains despite the fact that both my sons are out of the house. But I know why I keep the tradition alive if by nothing other than reading to myself – reading the words of the Declaration keeps me from ever taking for granted how important that document is to our country and arguably, the world.

Regardless of how you want to assess the motives of the drafters and signers of the Declaration (divinely inspired beings or old white men who didn’t want to pay their taxes), they did change the world. They provided the document that codified a fundamental change in governing philosophies. The rule of absolute monarchies was coming to an end. Governments were stated to derive their power from the consent of the governed. While other cultures might have experimented or enacted similar forms of government, and while even the English had the Magna Carta, it was the American document, combined with a host of other factors, that so far has made our experiment more impactful.

In the 242 years since the Declaration’s signing, a mere eye blink in the course of human history, we have come so far in our country. At the time of our independence, not everyone could vote, women did not have equal rights, and of course, most tragically, the moral depravity that was slavery kept a race in chains. Today, those things are gone.

Yet, despite that progress, we still have a long way to go to live up to the Declaration. A long way to go to truly live in world where “All men are created equal”. But every day we are still here is another day we have to get there. America’s greatness isn’t in its past, it is in its future. As it is with the Declaration. The greatness of the document doesn’t rest with it being read before the Continental Army in 1776, or even by me every 4th of July – its greatness lies in what it will mean for the future.

Today, there are many who doubt that future greatness. But by taking this day and reflecting deeply on what our independence means, and what it is supposed mean, we can find a true spirit of liberty and a promise of that future greatness for all. A spirit that will pull us together and allow us to walk the path lighted by torch of freedom. A spirit of liberty as defined by Judge Learned Hand of New York at the end of the Second World War when he said, “The spirit of liberty seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weights their interests alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded.”

So this what we need to do on this 4th of July and every 4th of July. Celebrate the birth of our country by looking at where we have come since the rule of kings, acknowledging our failings in achieving the vision set forth in the Declaration, and coming together as one people, “with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence,”…”mutually pledging to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

Happy Independence Day from the Henry Clay Center

The Road to Compromise (Part 4 of 4)

In the summer of 2017, the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship College Student Congress attendees were tasked with finding bipartisan solutions to some of the most complex issues facing the nation – healthcare, foreign intervention, national debt, and transportation. Students first developed policy proposals along partisan lines, and then came together in a series of negotiations during which the partisan plans were merged into a single policy compromise amenable to both groups.

These negotiations among talented college students produced new and creative solutions to major national issues, proving along the way that partisan values need not be abandoned to reach compromise, and that mutually beneficial compromise is in fact achievable.

This spring we will be highlighting a different policy solution developed by our 2017 College Student Congress attendees. It should be noted that the policy solutions presented in this series are mere summaries of the proposals that resulted from hard work by dedicated groups of students who were constrained by both time and resources, and do not fully capture the level of detail and commitment each group invested in their solutions. Our last topic is the national debt and deficit.

 

National Debt and Deficit

At the time of the 2017 College Student Congress, the level of US national debt was at nearly $20 trillion dollars and rising. While both the liberal and conservative groups entered negotiations agreeing that the debt should be reduced to 60% of GDP by 2028, they each had different proposals informed by their partisan beliefs on how to create solutions to lower the national debt.

 

Below are key components that the liberal student group wanted to emphasize during their attempt to develop a policy solution to lower the national debt:

  • Protect vulnerable communities and increase education funding
  • Promote greater healthcare access for all
  • Sustain and increase “safety net” programs
  • Impose higher taxes on the nation’s wealthiest citizens

The conservative student group adopted the following goals in their initial policy proposal for lowering the national debt:

  • Focusing on lowering the debt level to keep interest expense in check
  • Reforming the Affordable Care Act
  • Promoting sustainable entitlement spending
  • Increasing defense spending
  • Minimizing tax increases

Once each group had determined their initial starting points, the students came together to negotiate a bipartisan policy that would meet objectives from each of their partisan proposals. The areas where the students had the greatest levels of divergence and thus the greatest need to compromise were revenues, healthcare and defense.

On revenues, both groups were able to come to an eventual solution that included several initial partisan objectives. The liberal group was able to restore the 2009 estate tax parameters, impose a 5.4% surtax on income above $1 million, enact the Buffet Rule and reduce the mortgage interest deduction. The conservatives earned the reduction of the corporate tax rate to 30%, repealed the excise tax on high cost health insurance plans, did not allow an increase in Medicare premiums for high-income beneficiaries and implemented a sunset clause for the 5.4% surtax and Buffet Rule.

The compromise between the groups on healthcare resulted in an agreement to maintain the individual mandate, block grant Medicaid, and not enact malpractice reform. The groups also came to a compromise on entitlement issues, including repealing the Davis-Bacon Act, raising the retirement age to 70, implementing chained CPI to determine benefits, and developing mechanisms to help those impacted by chained CPI.

Finally, the two groups worked out a defense spending compromise wherein there were increases in veterans benefits, funding for homeland security and international assistance, as well as a reduction of the Navy fleet and sequester repeal.

The groups determined that if their detailed budget were enacted and able to be implemented as envisioned, then the national debt would reach 60% of GDP in 2026, two years earlier than their original target date.

The Road to Compromise (Part 3 of 4)

In the summer of 2017, the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship College Student Congress attendees were tasked with finding bipartisan solutions to some of the most complex issues facing the nation – healthcare, foreign intervention, national debt, and transportation. Students first developed policy proposals along partisan lines, and then came together in a series of negotiations during which the partisan plans were merged into a single policy compromise amenable to both groups.

These negotiations among talented college students produced new and creative solutions to major national issues, proving along the way that partisan values need not be abandoned to reach compromise, and that mutually beneficial compromise is in fact achievable.

This spring we will be highlighting a different policy solution developed by our 2017 College Student Congress attendees. It should be noted that the policy solutions presented in this series are mere summaries of the proposals that resulted from hard work by dedicated groups of students who were constrained by both time and resources, and do not fully capture the level of detail and commitment each group invested in their solutions. Our third topic is healthcare.

Healthcare

Healthcare has become an increasingly partisan topic in American politics, which created for intense negotiations between the conservative and liberal student groups at the Student Congress. Each side entered negotiations with fairly traditional stances on healthcare-related issues, but their compromise produced truly creative proposals that sought to rectify even the most disparate political positions.

 

 

The conservative student group’s initial proposal was centered around encouraging individuals to purchase health insurance by reducing costs through the free market. Some components of their proposal included the following:

  • Repealing the Affordable Care Act.
  • Allowing insurance pooling.
  • Requiring health care providers to post costs.
  • Doubling the cap on the Health Savings Account.
  • Rolling back the age for Medicare incrementally.
  • Improving access to and quality of women’s healthcare.

 

The liberal student group plan focused on policy elements related to pricing transparency, reproductive health, national public healthcare options. Their proposal included the following ideas:

  • Establishing a public option for health insurance on the public market that is rolled into Medicaid and implemented alongside the private marketplace.
  • Creating a mechanism through which new parents and family members of the seriously ill could take time off to tend to important family members.
  • Keep 100% of federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
  • Offering an a la carte option for individual to purchase birth control at insurance rates.
  • Implementing drug price and price change reporting requirements for manufacturers.

 

The two groups were able to come to agreement on several policy points, including deregulating individual pooling, family leave, pharmaceutical ethics and health service transparency, family leave, and issues related to HSA and birth control. This agreement respected several initial partisan preferences within each group, and set the stage for further bipartisan compromise in the areas of a public option, emergency room policy, and women’s health.

In their compromise on the public option and individual mandate, the liberal and conservative groups suspended the individual mandate in the ACA with a sunset clause of ten years, determined that the public option would provide for pre-existing conditions,  and implemented a subsidy for the public option.

On emergency room policy, the groups determined that the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act would be amended to protect hospitals and encourage the purchasing of health insurance. Components of this compromise included provisions that an ER must only treat individuals with medical conditions requiring urgent action, and that an ER maintains the right to deny service to individuals without urgent conditions if an official referral to a FQHC within reasonable distance is made.

To address the policy questions related to women’s health, the females within the conservative and liberal groups created a Women’s Caucus to lead negotiations. It was decided that 100% of federal funding awarded to Planned Parenthood would be reallocated to Federally Qualified Health Centers located in each state, doubling their amount of funding. The $500 million would be phased out over 5 years, decreasing funding to Planned Parenthood by 20% each year. The remaining $500 million would be moved from the Defense budget. The Women’s Caucus determined that this compromise would address the main goal of increasing access to birth control, with Planned Parenthood still able to function from private donations.

While these compromises were not easy, with both sides giving ground on traditional party stances, the students in the healthcare group were able to overcome party lines in the name of addressing the pressing healthcare problems facing the United States.

The Road to Compromise (Part 2 of 4)

In the summer of 2017, the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship College Student Congress attendees were tasked with finding bipartisan solutions to some of the most complex issues facing the nation – healthcare, foreign intervention, national debt, and transportation. Students first developed policy proposals along partisan lines, and then came together in a series of negotiations during which the partisan plans were merged into a single policy compromise amenable to both groups.

These negotiations among talented college students produced new and creative solutions to major national issues, proving along the way that partisan values need not be abandoned to reach compromise, and that mutually beneficial compromise is in fact achievable.

This spring we will be highlighting a different policy solution developed by our 2017 College Student Congress attendees. It should be noted that the policy solutions presented in this series are mere summaries of the proposals that resulted from hard work by dedicated groups of students who were constrained by both time and resources, and do not fully capture the level of detail and commitment each group invested in their solutions. Up next, foreign intervention.

Foreign Intervention

The summer of 2017 saw a diplomatic stalemate erupt in the Middle East. In early June, a bloc of Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with the small Gulf state of Qatar for a variety of alleged activities, plunging the region into political turmoil. The diplomatic crisis put the United States in an unenviable position between two regional allies.

While coming up with a solution for the situation in Qatar did not fall squarely along partisan lines, traditional liberal and conservative stances on the military, humanitarian aid, and economic policy emerged during the student negotiations.

Highlights of the initial liberal policy proposal involving counter-terrorism operations, economics, and humanitarian aid included the following:

  • Maintaining the integrity of the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.
  • Suspending US airstrike operations in the region for a minimum of three months, pending revaluation of the region’s stability.
  • The US not adding association name to the US terror list.
  • The US becoming a third party claimant in the dispute and siding with Qatar.
  • Allocation of USAID funds to the Qatari branch of the Red Crescent and Food Security Program.

There were overlaps between the two policy proposals, though differences with the conservative proposal were highlighted in the following objectives:

  • Ensuring that regional operations against ISIS are unaffected by the diplomatic crisis.
  • Evaluating the use of the terrorist label.
  • The US serving as a mediator in the dispute, thereby embracing its international leadership role.
  • Understanding that the current humanitarian efforts of regional neighbors are sufficient and that there would be complications if the US sent additional aid.

During the negotiation sessions it was determined by the students that the singular compromise objective should be ensuring the Saudi-led bloc nations reinstate relations with Qatar while still maintaining US alliances on both sides of the dispute, given US economic and security interests in the region.

On counter-terrorism, the liberal and conservative groups agreed that the US would maintain current anti-terrorism operations from its base in Qatar, but that the US would not involve the military in additional conflict in the Gulf Region. It was also agreed upon that the US would not add organizations or entities named in the conflict to the terrorist list. Further, the US would not engage in the sanctions against Qatar related to alleged terrorism activities.

Economic policy compromises centered around encouraging Qatar to bring suit against Saudi Arabia in the WTO. While the students eventually agreed that the US would become a third party claimant in the dispute, it was also determined that the US should continue to highlight the importance of Saudi economic relations with the US.

Finally, the two groups agreed that no immediate humanitarian action would be taken by the US. Instead, the US would monitor the situation via the reporting of Amnesty International and the United Nations, and any allocated aid funds would come from the UN regular budget in the State Department’s Contributions to International Organizations (CIO).

Both the liberal and conservative groups made departures from their initial policy proposals. The liberal group approved military involvement in the region under the circumstance of a  Saudi Arabian territorial advance in the region, changed the stipulations of airstrike cessation to include only GCC countries, and agreed that funds would be allocated from the CIO account instead of USAID. The conservative group accepted a WTO proposal, agreed to send in additional humanitarian aid in the event of famine, and restricted potential airstrikes against groups in nations that are part of the Saudi-led bloc.

The Road to Compromise (Part 1 of 4)

In the summer of 2017, the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship College Student Congress attendees were tasked with finding bipartisan solutions to some of the most complex issues facing the nation – healthcare, foreign intervention, national debt, and transportation. Students first developed policy proposals along partisan lines, and then came together in a series of negotiations during which the partisan plans were merged into a single policy compromise amenable to both groups.

These negotiations among talented college students produced new and creative solutions to major national issues, proving along the way that partisan values need not be abandoned to reach compromise, and that mutually beneficial compromise is in fact achievable.

As the 2018 College Student Congress approaches, we will be highlighting a different policy solution developed by our 2017 College Student Congress attendees. It should be noted that the policy solutions presented in this series are mere summaries of the proposals that resulted from hard work by dedicated groups of students who were constrained by both time and resources, and do not fully capture the level of detail and commitment each group invested in their solutions. Up first, transportation.

Transportation

The major issues identified by students in the political debate on transportation were infrastructure, congestion, and greenhouse gas emissions. While transportation is of universal importance to Americans, there are differing approaches regarding the funding and implementation of transportation policy.

The initial conservative student proposal focused on the following principles:

  • Lowest qualified bidder stipulation to federal funds.
  • Require recipients of federal funds to match every dollar received.
  • Conduct a cost-benefit analysis to create goals for how each individual state can increase efficiencies, invest in new technology, and create new jobs. States that achieve these unfunded objectives will earn a performance bonus that can be allocated for infrastructure projects.
  • Designate additional grant money to states for construction of farm-to-market roads and school roads.

Meanwhile, the initial liberal student proposal centered on the following objectives:

  • A one dollar increase is imposed on the national gas/diesel excise tax for an indefinite period.
  • A projected 129 billion raised per year is allocated for a federal grant program.
  • Funds are split evenly between proposals for rural infrastructure and urban public transportation projects.

 

Due to the unique geographic make-up of states represented in the transportation groups, issues pertaining to rural versus urban infrastructure development quickly came to the fore throughout the negotiations, as did traditional political stances on taxes and emissions.

In the end, the liberal and conservative groups created a policy proposal that compromised on four major areas: a federal motor fuel tax, a green-for-green rebate program, grant funded infrastructure programs, and a task force monitoring grant implementation.

While the liberal group favored an immediate $1 increase for a gas tax compared to the conservative group’s preference for a $0 increase, the groups compromised on an incremental increase of $0.25 of the tax every six months over two years, divided evenly between the fuel tax and the diesel tax. It was determined by the groups that an earned income tax credit (EITC) would negate the effects of the higher gas tax. The distribution of revenues from the increased tax were settled at 25% for rural applicant priority for roads and bridges, 25% for urban applicant priority, 49.806% for anything infrastructure, and 0.194% for a Green for Green Program.

Under the student plan, only energy efficient EPA-certified Green vehicles are eligible for the Green for Green Rebate Program, in which consumers receive a rebate of 2% for every used “green” car purchased and 4% for every new American GDP contributing “green” car purchased. Appropriation for this program was capped at $250 million.

The students also created a so-called Fill-a-bus-ter Program to increase community residents’ access to reliable public transportation through both routes and hours of operation, particularly for low-income residents. Requirements of the program included giving priority to community projects that incorporate green technology and presenting reports on how project implementation will reduce the carbon footprint of a community as well as affect traffic congestion, transportation-related fuel emissions, and availability of public transportation.

Finally, the liberal and conservative student groups agreed to create fifty state-led task forces to include local governments, NGOs, education leaders, and other relevant stakeholders to determine ways to reduce congestion and carbon emissions within their communities.

Trent Lott and Tom Daschle to Serve as Honorary Co-Chairmen of Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship

 Former Senate Majority Leaders rally behind promoting civil political discourse

and ending governmental gridlock

 

Lexington, Ky. (April 18, 2017) –The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship (HCCS) – which is dedicated to educating a new generation of leaders in the essential skills of negotiation, dialogue, and compromise in the spirit and legacy of the great Kentucky statesman and politician – announced today that former U.S. Senate Majority Leaders Trent Lott and Tom Daschle have agreed to serve as honorary co-chairmen of the non-profit organization.

Daschle, a Democrat from South Dakota, and Lott, a Republican from Mississippi, together served their home states for nearly six combined decades in Congress. Both visited HCCS in 2016 to meet with current students and alumni, and the two recently published “Crisis Point: Why We Must — and How We Can — Overcome Our Broken Politics in Washington and Across America”.

Robert Clay and William Giles, co-chairmen of HCCS, said: “This is a tremendous and game-changing honor for the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship. Tom Daschle and Trent Lott have warned for years about the consequences of growing political and ideological polarization. These leaders from different political parties found common ground and built a friendship that served, and continues to serve, the country well.  We are grateful for their deep commitment to more effective government based on shared goals and cooperation, and for their willingness to assist our efforts to mold the leaders of tomorrow.”

Senators Daschle and Lott added: “We are delighted to serve as honorary co-chairmen of the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship. In a time of acrimony and gridlock in our national political discourse, the mission of the Center to educate ‘a new generation of leaders in the principles and practices of statesmanship’ has never been more important. We look forward to helping guide the Center in its vital work, in Washington and across the country.”

For most of the past decade, HCCS has held summer national student congresses at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky for rising high school and college seniors. Participants in this once-in-a-lifetime academic and personal development experience have learned from U.S. Supreme Court justices, Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senators, governors and other nationally-recognized officials and academic thought-leaders.

Students explore how effective dialogue and compromise have been instrumental in resolving high-stakes policy and societal issues while also honing personal skills in constructive engagement. The student congress program is completely free of cost (travel and lodging included) to those selected from the competitive application process. Critically, student congress participants interact with peers from all 50 states, ensuring that they will be exposed to and forge friendships with future leaders from across the country.

HCCS plans to expand to include a week in Washington in 2017, where college-age students will be exposed to all branches of government and will gain first-hand knowledge of how those branches interact to determine legislation and policy implementation.

The Washington week will culminate in the Bourbon Barrel of Compromise Event, a reception for students and graduates attended by current elected officials, staffers, government relations professionals and Center supporters. The inspiration for the event comes from Henry Clay himself, who would famously ship a barrel of Kentucky Bourbon to Washington for use in his diplomatic efforts on his many trips to the capital.

In 2015, HCCS hosted the inaugural Bourbon Barrel of Compromise at the historic Willard Hotel in Washington, where Henry Clay would reside when living in the nation’s capital.  Attendees and speakers included then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky (now Senate Majority Leader), then-House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, and other high-profile leaders.

A date for the Bourbon Barrel event will be announced soon.

About the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship

Founded in 2007 in Lexington, Kentucky, The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship is a 501c3 organization dedicated to the education of tomorrow’s leaders in the skills necessary for statesmanship; dialogue, negation and compromise. In addition to annual student congresses at the high school and college levels, HCCS sponsors lectures and conducts advocacy for greater levels of negotiation and compromise at all levels of government. The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship is in partnership with Transylvania University, the University of Kentucky’s Martin School for Public Policy and Administration and the Council of State Governments. For more information about the program, the Bourbon Barrel Compromise or how to contribute, visit: www.henryclaycenter.org  or @henryclaycenter.

Alumni of the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship, now number over 500, and serve variously as elected state and local office holders, staffers in the U.S. Senate and House, as well as corporate and legal professionals in the private sector.

 

Transylvania partners with Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship to offer Diplomacy Scholarship

Transylvania partners with Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship to offer Diplomacy Scholarship

September 8, 2016- Lexington, Ky.— Transylvania University has partnered with The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship to create a scholarship for a new generation of leaders.

Rising high school seniors from every region of the U.S. who are competitively selected and participate in the Henry Clay Center High School National Student Congress in 2017 will receive a $10,000 Diplomacy Scholarship each year for four years, should they decide to attend Transylvania.

“The quality of young leaders who have attended the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship National High School Student Congress is second to none,” Transylvania President Seamus Carey said.  “Alumni of the program are now staffers in the U.S. Senate and House, state governments, top law firms, NGO’s and leading corporations. Our university is committed to a modern, interdisciplinary liberal arts education, and offering the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship Diplomacy Scholarship will enable us to enroll and educate some of the best and brightest promising young leaders in America.”

The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship is an innovative nonprofit dedicated to educating students in the essential skills of negotiation, dialogue and compromise.

For most of the past decade, the Center has held a summer Student Congress at Transylvania for rising high school seniors across the country. These students have met with justices from the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Speakers of the House, governors, U.S. senators and other nationally recognized officials and academic thought leaders. Compromise, the constructive engagement and dialogue to resolve conflict and competing interests in a democracy, is the main focus of the week-long program. The capstone event is a student debate in Frankfort’s Old State Capitol.

Current college juniors and high school juniors with records of exceptional academic and extracurricular achievement are invited to apply for this once-in-a-lifetime academic and personal development program, which is free of cost (travel and lodging is included).

“In a time of increasing political polarization, it’s more important than ever to facilitate dialogue between younger Americans,” said Robert Clay, co-chairman of the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship. “We are grateful for our tremendous partnerships, and the Transylvania University Henry Clay Center Diplomacy Scholarship programs are just another affirmation of the importance and quality of civic education and compromise in American life.”

While Transylvania ranks among the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, the university offers an affordable education through scholarships such as the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship Diplomacy program and other types of financial support. Ninety-eight percent of Transylvania’s students receive assistance that reduces tuition.

About the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship

The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship was formed in 2007 and is an innovative youth leadership program inspired by Henry Clay, one of our nation’s most revered leaders. He served with distinction as secretary of state, U.S. senator and Speaker of the House, leaving a profound legacy as our nation’s “Great Compromiser.” The Center imparts the skills of public dialogue and leadership to bring about change in an increasingly polarized public and civic environment. For more information visit: www.henryclaycenter.org  or @henryclaycenter.

About Transylvania University

Located in the heart of downtown Lexington, Transylvania is ranked in the top 15 percent of the nation’s four-year colleges by The Princeton Review, which cites its community-driven, personalized approach to a liberal arts education through 40 majors. Founded in 1780, it is the 16th oldest institution of higher learning in the country, with nearly 1,100 students.

2016 Student Congresses Tackle Solutions for Major Issues

2016 Student Congresses Tackle Solutions for Major Issues

Key focus areas included immigration, climate change, higher education, and economic policy

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For most of the past decade, The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship has held a summer Student Congress for college and/or high school students. The week-long programs gather competitively-selected students from every region of the country. Students have opportunity to meet with lawmakers, academics, journalists, and civic leaders to discuss the practical importance of compromise and constructive engagement in resolving current and future challenges. Nationally-recognized speakers lead student seminars followed by a student debate on a current topic in the Old State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky.

The high school program focused on political leadership and statesmanship by exploring examples of compromise from the time of Henry Clay to the present day and by identifying techniques of compromise and negotiation.   Putting their study to practical use, they then worked together to develop policy on the issue of climate change.   By assuming roles representing different points of view, and actually engaging in negotiation, these students gained a deeper understanding of the commitment required to successfully address problems in public life.

At the university-level, students were assigned to grapple with four distinct policy issues: immigration, climate change, higher education, and economic policy. Within each group, students were expected to create policy that found acceptable common ground between diverse ideological positions. The college students developed, through long hours of constructive negotiation and compromise, policies that reflected both federal measures as well as local and state government initiatives.

Positions in the week-long Student Congress programs are limited to 50 high school and 50 college students selected in a competitive application process. The program provides cost-free travel, lodging and study to successful applicants. Student Congress alumni, now approaching 500 strong, are today contributing their skills as staffers in the United States Senate and House, in state governments, top law firms, NGO’s and leading US corporations.

Bill Giles, Co-Chairman of the Henry Clay Center noted, “There has never been a greater need for the skills we foster in tomorrow’s leaders. Based on my observations of the students at our Student Congress, I have great confidence in our future political system.”

 

2015 Student Congress

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Every year the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship wishes to instill the spirit of Henry Clay himself into a group of exceptional students from all over the United States during a one week Student Congress. It is with great pleasure that, once again, the Center announces the resounding success of it’s flagship event, the annual Student Congress. This 2015 Student Congress was in many ways revolutionary, but as in the past, it culminated in vigorous debate, lasting friendships, and something that the Great Compromiser himself would be proud of, a working consensus.

This year’s participants hailed from ten states from around the country, ranging from Maryland to Illinois and all the way to California, as well as one international participant from the Republic of Panama. As in years past, the Students were hosted at Transylvania University, which in partnership with the University of Kentucky and the Board of the Center have been able to create this incredible experience for over 350 students since 2007.

After an opening dinner at Henry Clay’s estate at Ashland, the participants began a vigorous week of lectures and debate-preparation. Much of the week was dedicated to lectures on a variety of issues, including the Supreme Court, Compromise in the International Sphere, Debt Management, Education Challenges, and Water Scarcity, just to mention a few. Yet the pivotal event occurred on Wednesday June 10th, when the student participants traveled to the Old Capitol building in Frankfort, and on the Senate Floor debated the issue of Food Policy before their peers. After four groups presented their arguments for the best changes to United States Food Policy10, they came together and arrived at a consensus on the most viable changes that could be implemented from all those proposed. This year’s participants were exceptional, and we know that they walk away from this Student Congress emboldened to take on the challenges of the next generation and to become leaders in whatever endeavors they may pursue.

 

We would like to warmly thank all the speakers who participated, particularly Dr. Michael Cairo of Transylvania University and Dr. Merl Hackbert, Interim Director of the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration, who played an instrumental part in preparing the 2015 Student Congress. We would also like to thank the Presidents of the two host Universities, Dr. Seamus Carey of Transylvania University as well as Dr. Eli Capilouto of the University of Kentucky.