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If in the opinion of the People, the distribution or modification of the Constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Farewell Address, Sep. 19, 1796



…with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens—a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.

THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1st Inaugural, March 4, 1801



Prologue

In the remote Virginia woods four old friends were meeting in a small ranch style home for what could very well be the last time. The house belonged to Congresswoman Susan Rand, her grandfather had died a couple years ago and Susan’s father had told her he’d leave the decision of whether and when to sell the place to her. Susan and her grandfather, Henry Rand, had been very close since she was a little girl and many of her favorite memories of him had taken place in this house. It was in this very house where he’d convinced her that she could do anything she set her mind to and not to worry what others might think of her. She thought selling the house would be like selling her memories, she couldn’t do it so the house remained as a sort of getaway for her but most of the time it sat empty. Before her election Susan was a successful contractor who built large commercial buildings, the first of which she’d completed well before the age of thirty. After her success in business she decided to take on the Congressman from her district, a man who had been in office for decades and loved to brag about how much pork he’d brought home to his people, as he condescendingly called his constituents. With the same determination she’d brought to her business she campaigned hard and by election day the contest was never in doubt. Susan Rand had become the first independent member of Congress from her district in its history. The most interesting thing about her campaign was her theme of not bringing home the pork. She’d won handily in spite of telling voters that bringing home federal money was not something she’d be doing and in short time she’d been in the Congress she’d kept that promise and surprisingly, the voters seemed to love her for it.

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