January 2017

It was six weeks after the 2016 election, and I was sitting with my seven-month-old son Richie in our house in Bristol, New Jersey. I had more cause for mourning than other progressives. Not only had our standard-bearer, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, lost the Electoral College to the most unqualified candidate in American history (despite winning the popular vote), but I lost my race for the 13th Congressional District of New Jersey to the incumbent.

If you enjoy the ongoing adventures of Justin T. Fairchild, Social Justice Warrior, be sure to check out the new Liberty Island e-book featuring America’s favorite Constitutional Trotskyite. SNOWFLAKE’S CHANCE: THE 2016 CAMPAIGN DIARY OF JUSTIN T. FAIRCHILD, SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR is available for download at Amazon.

I had spent the transition period rebuilding my shattered faith in American democracy and taking care of my young son. It turned out that both of these things were best accomplished with a steady diet of public television programming. Together, we watched Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and Peg + Cat. The programs were soothing, comforting, and I actually learned a lot about fractions.

But maybe I took things a little too far.

“Don’t you think you and Richie have watched enough television for one day?” my wife Emma asked.

“We’re learning about agriculture,” I explained.

“You’re watching Caillou,” she said. “That’s not going to teach Richie anything about agriculture.”

“Caillou goes to a strawberry farm in this one,” I said.

“That’s nice for Caillou. Richie needs a diaper change, and then some tummy time. You and I need to talk.”

I changed Richie’s diaper—I had actually gotten quite good at this—while Emma told me what her plan was. “I want to go to Washington for the march, right after the inauguration.”

“Microaggression,” I said.

“Justin, for God’s sake. Inauguration is a perfectly reasonable word to use.”

“If we had a perfectly reasonable President, yes. This is not an inauguration. It’s a usurpation of the rightful order of things. Secretary Clinton won the popular vote. Her opponent should recognize that and step aside honorably.”

“I am not having this argument with you, Justin. We have been over this a thousand times. Trump won the election.”

“Don’t say his name around Richie.”

“Trump is not an evil wizard. He won’t corrupt Richie’s innocent young ears if you say his name.”

“Nevertheless. When are we leaving to go to the march?”

“We’re not going. I am going, and I am taking your mother and my mother with me. It’s a women’s march.”

“Which is discriminatory and unfair,” I say. “Why can’t male feminist allies participate?”

“You will participate. You will be at home, undermining the power of the patriarchy by undertaking traditional female child-care responsibilities.”

“You can’t fool me by invoking gender theory,” I said.

“Of course not,” Emma said. “I would never think of doing that. I will point out that if you insist on coming, it would mean that you and Richie would have to ride all the way to Washington with my mother and your mother. In a very small car.”

I considered this.

“Why don’t you go, and I’ll stay here and take care of Richie,” I said. “That way it will be fair for everyone.”

“That is a brilliant idea,” Emma said. “I am glad that you came up with it. If you’ll excuse me, I have a hat to knit.”

❄  ❄  ❄

I had just put Richie down for his nap, and was considering taking one of my own, when the front doorbell rang. Thankfully, it didn’t wake Richie up, so I raced to the front door before whoever-it-was could ring it again. I opened the door just a tiny crack, so as not to let the cold air inside.

“Mr. Justin Trudeau-Fairchild?” the man at the door asked.

“Just plain Justin Fairchild,” I said. After an entire campaign of being ridiculed by my opponent, the local press, and even The New York Times because my name was similar to that of the Canadian prime minister, I had dropped the “Trudeau” part of my name. “And I have a sleeping baby in the house, so if we can talk quietly, that would be great. How can I help you?”

The man had a square face with a prominent widow’s peak, and heavy eyelids. He flashed FBI credentials. “We would like to speak to you. Quietly, as you said.”

I opened the door all the way, and saw there were two FBI agents—the second a woman, with curly black hair. Both of them looked strained and worried.

“If this is about the campaign finances, I can explain,” I said. “You see, all the real money was in the super-PAC.”

“Mr. Fairchild, please calm down,” the woman said. “This isn’t about your campaign.”

“Then you’re here to send me to a re-education camp,” I said. “I didn’t think that would start before the inauguration. Can I at least go upstairs and get a toothbrush?”

“Mr. Fairchild,” the man said. “Please. This is a courtesy visit. No one is taking anyone to any re-education camps. If we can please come inside before you jump to any more… rash conclusions, that would be ideal.”

“And we would like to talk to Mrs. Fairchild as well,” the woman said.

I opened the door for them, and directed them to the front parlor. I asked Emma to come downstairs, and started a pot of coffee. For them, not for me. My heart was already racing, and caffeine would make that so much worse.

I poured the coffee (fair-trade, shade grown), and brought two mugs out on a nice tray. Not that I thought that using a nice tray would help keep me from being dragged out of the house by government thugs, but I figured it couldn’t hurt. Emma had taken the back stairs and met me in the kitchen.

“What is this about?” she asked.

“The FBI,” I said. “I have no idea why they’re here.”

“Oh, my God.”

“They said it was a courtesy visit. Your guess is as good as mine.”

“Then we better not leave them waiting,” she said.

❄  ❄  ❄

“I think we might have gotten off on the wrong foot, Mr. Fairchild,” the male FBI agent said. “I might have intimidated you a bit by showing you my credentials that way.”

“A bit,” I said.

“It is probably best to think of this as a friendly visit from your friends Peter and Lisa,” the woman said. “Who just happen to work for the Justice Department. You know, friends.”

“If it helps, we were referred by your former employer,” Peter said.

“Aunt Joan?” Emma asked.

“She’s not really my aunt,” I explained. During the 2014 midterm campaign, and the 2016 primary, Emma and I had both interned in Aunt Joan’s office. She was a longtime friend of my mother’s and of Secretary Clinton’s, and ran a nonprofit advocacy organization that was loosely affiliated with the Clinton campaign. “And neither of us did anything wrong while we were there.”

“Of course not,” Lisa said. “You have to realize, though, that even though there are forces within the Justice Department that are very favorable towards progressive causes, we can’t control everything that happens after the transition is over. Some of us are working to help people as much as we can.”

“Like, what?” Emma asked. “Like a secret society?”

“Who told you?” Peter said. “Because… um… there’s not one. That would be ridiculous.”

“Ridiculous,” Lisa said, shooting a glare in Peter’s direction.

“Nonetheless,” Peter said, “The FBI… well, progressive elements within the FBI, which could never be characterized as a ‘secret society,’ is, well, aware of certain activities ordered by Secretary Clinton, involving the destruction of documents, in which two young unidentified interns may have been involved.”

“Such interns,” Lisa said, “likely would not have known they were committing crimes. But just to be safe, anyone who did shred official—or unofficial—State Department files would be looking at criminal charges. Unless…”

“Unless what?” I asked.

“Unless the whole thing can be kept quiet until after the statute of limitations expires,” Lisa said. “Which would be in February 2018.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

Peter sighed. “This is just advice from a friend, you understand? Okay, in the advice from a friend category, that means that the two of you should refrain from political activity that would cause anyone to suspect you. That means no public speaking, no tweeting, and especially no blogging. Understand me?”

“We don’t want to see anyone get hurt,” Lisa said. “Too many people are going to get hurt by the new Administration, and we want to help as many people as possible before that happens.”

“Not that there is a secret society,” Peter said. “Because there isn’t. Or if there is one, it’s a secret, and I can’t tell you about it.”

“Let Justin and I make you some more coffee,” Emma said.

❄  ❄  ❄

“We can’t go to jail,” Emma said.

“I don’t want to go to jail, either,” I said. “But this means that we aren’t going to be helping the resistance effort. I don’t know if I can live like that.”

“It’s only for a year or so,” Emma said. “And they look like nice people. Maybe we can trust them. Not everyone in Washington is going to blindly follow Trump.”

“But give up on activism? Stop being a social justice warrior? That’s my identity,” I said. “That’s who I am.”

“Who you are is Richie’s father,” Emma said. “That’s more important right now. The question is, can we trust them?”

I caught a quick look into the parlor, where Peter and Lisa were holding hands and looking soulfully into each other’s eyes—and then, right there on our couch, starting a passionate make-out session.

“I think we can trust them,” I said.

Snowflake's Chance cover

If you enjoy the ongoing adventures of Justin T. Fairchild, Social Justice Warrior, be sure to check out the new Liberty Island e-book featuring America’s favorite Constitutional Trotskyite. SNOWFLAKE’S CHANCE: THE 2016 CAMPAIGN DIARY OF JUSTIN T. FAIRCHILD, SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR is available for download at Amazon.