"You’re fired,"
Aunt Joan said.

"If this is a
Donald Trump joke," I said, "it isn’t funny."

"It’s not funny,"
she said, "but it’s time. Meet me in my office."

"Is this serious?"
I asked.

"As a heart attack.
Bring Emma with you, she’s fired, too."

I pulled Emma out
of her cubicle, and we both trooped upstairs in Aunt Joan’s wake. We walked in
her office and she motioned for me to close the door behind me. We sat on her
couch and prepared to be yelled at. This had not happened nearly as much
recently, not since the former Secretary’s poll numbers had been rising.

"I am very sorry to
lose both of you," she said, "but it’s time. Justin, you’ve been here a year,
and I think Emma has been here at least that long. We need to transition you
out of here and get in some new blood."

"I don’t believe
it," Emma said. "You can’t fire me when you’re not even paying me. This is

"Relax, young
lady," Aunt Joan said. "I’m doing you a favor, really. And you’ll be going

"What is going on?"
Emma asked. "You’re not making any sense."

"What can either of
you tell me about the 13th Congressional District in New Jersey?"
Aunt Joan asked.

"It’s a Republican
district," I said. "Central New Jersey, no major urban areas. The current
officeholder is a Tea Party type–Mark Campbell, I think his name is. He didn’t
have any opposition in the last cycle."

"I told your mother
you weren’t a total idiot," Aunt Joan said.

"You did not bring
us in here to quiz us about random Congressional districts," Emma said.

"Oh, but I did,"
Aunt Joan said. "According to our source, Mark Campbell is in the process of
transitioning to Marcia Campbell. He’s going to announce the change next week."

"A transgender
Republican congressman?" Emma asked.

"O brave new world,
that has such people in it!" Aunt Joan quoted. "So that means that he’s
probably going to get primaried, and that makes him vulnerable. Demographic
research indicates that a very young, attractive Democrat, especially a young,
attractive Democrat with a lot of family money, might have a real opportunity
at taking NJ-13."

"You want Justin?"
Emma asked. "You want Justin and me to move to New Jersey so he can run for
Congress? Are you insane?"

"I’ll do it," I

"Justin’s not even from
New Jersey," Emma said. "I’m at least from there. Why not set me up to run?"

"I’ll do it," I

"Justin, wait,"
Emma said. "Wait just one minute. Give me one good reason why I can’t be the
one to run."

"You’re pregnant,"
I said.

"That’s not an
automatic disqualification, and it’s anti-feminist for you to think it is."

Aunt Joan said. "If congratulations are in order."

"I am not due until
May of next year. There’s no reason to think that I couldn’t run in November."

"The primary in New
Jersey is the first week of June," I said. "In case that becomes an issue."

"Justin, shut up,"
Emma said. "I don’t need you to be helpful just now."

"Both of you, stop
squabbling," Aunt Joan said. "Emma, please believe me, I understand your
situation. Nothing would make me happier than to see you in the House. You are
a smart, capable, strong young woman who deserves more in life than being a
political wife."

"Thank you," Emma

"But Justin’s
father has three-point-eight billion dollars and can afford to spend enough
money to get Justin elected."

"Most of that’s not
liquid," I pointed out.

"But he’s not
local," Emma said.

"But you are," Aunt
Joan said, "and that’s why you make such a great team. You could be the next
power couple."

"I am going to need
some time to think about this," Emma said.

"You can’t stay
here," Aunt Joan said. "You’ve learned everything I can teach you. It’s time
for you to go, both of you."

"But the former
Secretary needs us," Emma said.

"You’d be
surprised," Aunt Joan said. "And besides, what better way to support the former
Secretary than to give her a valuable vote in Congress?"

"I can’t believe I
am agreeing to this," Emma said. "It’s crazy. Justin, are you sure you want to
do this?"

"I’ve never been so
sure of anything in my life," I said. "This is what I want to do. I want to
prove myself, and what better way to prove myself than to run for elective

"This is about the
other Justin Trudeau," Emma said. "You’re trying to prove to your mother that
you’re as good as he is."

"That’s not it," I
said. "This is my opportunity to be my own person, to make my own way. To fight
the forces of evil. To finally get federal funding for the National Foundation
for Socialist Interpretive Dance."

"You might want to
leave off that last part in front of the voters," Aunt Joan said.

"I want to make a
difference," I said. "I’ll do whatever I can to make that happen. If that means
running for Congress from New Jersey, I’m prepared to make that sacrifice."

"I knew you had it
in you," Aunt Joan said. "Go home and start packing. You’ll need to find a
house in the district before you do anything else. Once you get that done,
we’ll start working on your team."

"Thank you, Aunt
Joan," I said. "Thank you for everything."

"Don’t mention it,"
she said. "You’ve earned this. Don’t disappoint me."

"I won’t," I said.

I walked out of the
office, feeling as light as air. A year ago, I had come to Washington to try to
make a difference. I had been trained as a social justice warrior, and had
fought the forces of fear and ignorance on the battleground of social media. I
was ready for whatever came next.


"It’s a trap," Emma

"You’re not excited
about this?" I said. "This is an amazing opportunity."

"Then why would
they give it to you?"

I didn’t have an
answer for that.

"Why you? Why you
over everyone else? Lots of rich people in this world who would like to run for
Congress, and a lot of them live in New Jersey. Why would the former Secretary
pick you out of an internship program and hand you the keys to NJ-13?"

"You heard," I
said. "My dad will bankroll me. Of course, I haven’t talked to him about it,
but he does want me to have a better job. Maybe he set this up."

"You’re not
listening," Emma said. "Why you? What have you done? What have I done?"

"We’ve shown we can
be trusted?"

"And what did we do
to cause that?"

"Well," I said, "we
didn’t say anything when Hillary ranked out Aunt Joan a couple of weeks ago. We
didn’t say anything when Aunt Joan was parading all those foreign
representatives through the office to shake them down for super-PAC donations.
We didn’t say anything when…"

"When we shredded
all that stuff for her."

"You’re right," I
said. "It’s a trap."

"Let’s think on the
bright side. Maybe it’s a bribe," Emma said.

"It’s a really good
bribe," I said. "And nobody can prove anything. We’re not going to say
anything, and there’s nothing to show that we were ever there. If we get
married, we can’t even testify against each other."

Trudeau-Fairchild," Emma said, "is this your way of proposing to me?"

"Um, well, no," I
said. "Unless it is."

"It had better not
be," she said. "All right. Let’s get some sleep. We have a lot of packing to


speaking, we didn’t have any packing to do. I called Fairchild Logistics the
next morning and they had an executive relocation team at our apartment by
noon. Fairchild would put everything in storage until we had found a house to
buy within the NJ-13 borders. They offered to drive us up to New Jersey in a
town car, but we decided to take the train.

We walked together
in the bright October sunshine to the busy main entrance of Union Station. I
took a quick backward glance at the dome of the Capitol. I had come to this
city a year ago, young and naive, and was leaving with a wealth of experience
and a young family. But I wasn’t leaving for long, I thought. I would be back.
I would once again tread the corridors of power, and when I came back, I would
truly be in a position to make a difference.

<– Week Forty-Nine ***