Prompt: Pick your most cherished political view and convincingly argue the other side.
“I looked over the final edits,” My boss stated flatly before gathering the speech into a slick black folder. We were late but the man took his time as he pushed himself away from the desk and walked over to the window. I watched as he used the reflection to pat his gray hair into place, straightened his red tie.
“What did you think, Sir?” I prodded him along. I was aware of his habitual ability to become distracted by his own face in the window reflection, framed by the marble columns of The Capitol. Her boss was either lost in thought or hubris.
His eyes moved to the desk skimming it one last time absently. “Good, good.”
He was taking too long. We already approached the time we told the leader’s eager staffer we’d be there. Fucking whipping boys.
“Great, sir, all set?” I handed him his suit jacket.
Once in the hall I was able to pick up our pace. The man had paced these halls for decades and knew short cuts. Nothing could help the elevator, though. Damn thing hadn’t been replaced since the early 19th century and hardly worked. I glared at the numbers as they ticked.
This was going to come down on me if we walked into that room late and unable to reserve the floor. My feet hurt, I shifting from leg to another; happy I switched into flats. I did not want to lose my job today. Fault always falls on the communications director.
“I especially liked the ending,” His sudden critique pulled me from my reverie.
I nodded. “Great, sir.”
The elevator dinged and we entered through copper doors.
“You did well with this,” he continued. “I think it will get the point across that, while unconventional, this is not an unprecedented notion.”
“I understand you’re argument completely, sir. I wanted this speech to reflect that.” I urged my voice to still, to oblige.
We were close now, deep underground in the walkway that led to the center of the building. Only one punishingly slow elevator ride remained.
As the doors finally opened, we raced passed noise. We made our way across the lobby floor where the media and stakeholders pushed against the upstairs railing of the rotunda, uselessly screaming their questions. They formed a cacophony of non-distinct noise. I gritted my teeth through the smile I flashed, sending a wave towards recognizable faces.
Two Capitol Pages opened the heavy doors. I watched my boss march down the aisle as I slinked along the curved wall. Whether we made it in time was still a mystery. There was no way to tell if he could take the floor until my boss made the request. My shoulders only loosened when I saw the committee member’s curt nod.
“You have thirty seconds on the floor.”
With ease, the Congressman walked up to the podium, opened the folder and took a minute to look across the room. He met my eye but did not smile or nod. He began.
“Colleagues, esteemed committee members, thank you for providing me the time to speak with you on this amendment to the constitution – one that would abolish what has come to be known as the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses.
“The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights is seen as a pinnacle of American ethos. Scores of caselaw followed from the amendment including the section known colloquially as ‘the separation of church and state.’
My teeth clenched. I grabbed the Chai necklace that burned under my blouse.
“Bill of Rights,” he paused, feigning contemplation for CSPAN. “Overtime we glorified these three words through history lessons and diminished their true identity. They are only a suite of amendments, pieces of legislation, carved to govern the men and women who brought us here today.”
“All of us stand here at the honor of our constituents, chosen to represent their views. And the view of today’s America demand for Amendment 103 to be brought to a vote.”
I watched as he stopped for dramatic effect, allowing the echoes of the advocates outside to fill the silence. I turned to look at the other representatives in the room, my stomach twisted as some nodded with agreement.
“Currently, our nation is ill-equipped to represent the American people. We cannot provide answers to the protesters outside these doors. Amendment 103 allows us these answers. With it, we can build a bridge between our moral and legal code. We can close the gap and ensure our ability to teach, to monitor the stain of obscenity and indecency, to let our government reflect our faith -all with the passage of 103, the amendment to revoke the First Amendment.”
“We can make the America we want; all we have to do is vote.”
He stepped down to applause, walking over to me as he tried, unsuccessfully, to suppress a smug grin.
“I think that speech just made my career.”
I tried not to lose my lunch as I watched the self-satisfied room dismantle America.