"You don't know my father," Melissa Fox said sharply. "He would never have done such a thing." And she should know. After all, Arthur Fox had been in congress since she was in middle school.
Derek Boa looked away for a moment, but kept straightening the pile of forms in front of him on the table. "Now, granted," he said, slower than before, "he wasn't elected until after the PATRIOT Act was passed, but he's still voted against his own positions in trade for favors. So my statement stands: members of congress cannot be trusted to represent the will of the people who elected them. They're manipulation honey-pots just waiting to be used. Every one of them."
Melissa hadn't attended a meeting of Constitutional Evolution before, and now she didn't see much point in repeating the mistake. She'd heard about it in one of the Internet discussion groups she frequented, and thought that its plan to use workshops to experiment with changes to the structure and processes of governance were a good civic use for her talent as an artist. The problem was, its founder turned out to be a pompous jerk, one who just begged for a comeuppance.
"So you're essentially saying that everything congress has done for the past few hundred years has been for the benefit of some secret cabal, some shadowy group of megalomaniacs with delusions of world domination? Is that what you think?" Her voice was starting to crack.
He nodded. "Uh huh. And not just congress. The Supreme Court as well."
"The high court, too? So in your exalted opinion, two branches of government are corrupt?"
"Corruptible," he corrected. "And no. Not two branches. All three of them. Or have you forgotten the second Bush administration?"
"What?" She clutched double handfuls of her blond hair and mimed pulling it out. "Just who the hell do you think you are anyway? If you have that low an opinion of everyone in government, what's the point of this group of yours, anyway? Why bother fixing the constitution if there's no way it'll ever be used for the common good! So what's your game, then? What are you really all about, Derek?"
Boa stood there for a long moment, studying her face, saying nothing. Then he shrugged, slipped the pile of paper into his briefcase, and turned to leave.
"He's about fixing something that's way past broken, if you ask me."
Melissa spun around. The black man who had spoken was an inch shorter than she was, and wore a George Mason University jersey. There was a glint in his eye and a steel-spring feel to his stance. She nodded an abbreviated greeting. "Is he, now?"
"Damn right. And he's going to make it happen, too."
She poked a finger towards Boa, who was approaching a svelte redhead near the door. "That man just accused everyone in the government of being corrupt. I don't think they're going to want to listen to him." She fumed for a moment, then turned again to the man in the jersey. "I got here while you were flogging some lame protest technique. What's your stake in this?"
"At the risk of sounding pompous," he said, flashing a grin, "I'm Rodney Falk. People tell me I'm a good organizer."
Her nose wrinkled in distaste. "What? You mean you're in management?"
Falk laughed. "Hardly. Unless you're talking about arranging devious ways of making a point in a very public manner. That was the nub of my rant, after all. A lot of people seem to think that the reason for holding a public action is to get a message across."