Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, assures us that he “saw it on the television.” When confronted with the fact that no news organization and no fact-checking organization is able to uncover video documentation of masses of crowds on the New Jersey shore across from Manhattan “cheering” as the Financial District Twin Towers came tumbling down on September 11, 2001, Trump demands that they are wrong. Chuck Todd pointed out that an article that Trump himself linked to in a tweet contained three references to the fact that rumors of such activity had been fabricated and was a myth. Trump continued to establish that his statement of the validity of the phantom video footage was real, claiming that hundreds and hundreds of people have called his offices to support his claims of seeing the video footage. 1
“They were dancing in the streets, and they were dancing on the rooftops. I’m not makin’ that up.” Donald Trump was quoted as stating before a large supportive audience. 2
You can read the whole transcript of Chuck Todd’s interview of Donald Trump regarding his claim to have seen video footage of people in New Jersey cheering while the Twin Towers collapsed on September 11, 2015.
Ben Carson, also a presidential candidate, has slipped considerably in the polls, due in part to his non-existent foreign policy experience and knowledge, and has therefore allowed his consultants to organize a foreign tour of crisis areas in an attempt to show that Mr. Carson is willing to experience first-hand the turmoil and issues affecting various hotspots around the globe. Of the Syrian refugee camps that Carson observed in Jordan, Carson had to say, “I did not detect any great desire for them to come to the United States. You’ve got these refugee camps that aren’t completely full. And all you need is the resources to be able to run them. Why do you need to create something else?”
“All they need is adequate funding. It’s really quite impressive when you go over there and see it,” Carson told the Associated Press, adding that some areas had recreational facilities, schools, electricity, and indoor plumbing. “They were quite willing to stay there as long as it takes before they can get back home.” 3
It’s rather astonishing that Carson was able to determine these things after “meeting” the Syrian refugees with whom he does not have the ability to communicate in their own language. It is also fascinating to realize that we are supposed to take Carson at his word, that we are supposed to envision the detention camps exactly as he depicted them, and that—undoubtedly—the particular detention camp that he visited is somehow supposed to be representative of the opinion, predicament, and view of the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees that have settled in other parts of Europe and the world. We’ll never know, because as the Associated Press reported:
“The retired neurosurgeon toured the Azraq camp in northern Jordan under heavy Jordanian security, with journalists barred [from accompanying the tour]. Carson’s campaign also limited access, not providing his itinerary,” presumptively so that journalists would not try to infiltrate or precede the event and be able to take photos or video confirmation of Carson’s depiction of the camp. 4
How very transparent.
In any presidential campaign either or any such antics would have eliminated each candidate amidst a flurry of disdainful press and editorial opinion pieces. Not so today. Today we seem to have reached a plateau in our capitalist-meritocracy that rewards illicit and dishonest living as grounding and humanizing and something to which the masses can “relate.” Really? Truly. When asked about Trump’s honesty factor, a female supporter was quoted as saying, “[He] bends the truth. You know what? He’s still going to get things done.” 5
Really? By lying? By “bending the truth?” Really??! What happened to Christian basics like the Ten Commandments?… Things like “Thou shall not bear false witness?” These days, it seems, that in order to be a politician one has to be a good inventor and fabricator of truth, one has to be able to convince the public that you can twist a non-truth into common perception; develop hearsay into soundbite rhetoric, bear false witness against another until it becomes mythic legend.
Yes, apparently, in the United States, our American “values” and the philosophy of independence rests on our ability to believe lies. That’s right. In a capitalist-meritocracy, we’ve been brainwashed to believe that absolutely everyone has the capacity to “make it,” to achieve riches, to climb their way to the cream-of-the-crop, to become king-of-the-hill, to be a zillionaire. Absolutely everyone. And people see Donald Trump and they somehow have convinced themselves that he’s “paid his dues,” that he’s done his capitalist climbing in order to get where he is. But again, we’re duped by a fallacy, a phantom truth, a reality that Trump would like you to believe, but simply… isn’t… true.
Trump started at the top of the economic heap. People seem to forget these minor facts. Trump’s father gave him a million-dollar business start-up package. Trump has filed for bankruptcy several times for his failed business ventures …while retaining his personal billions in finances. It ought to be recognized, despite legalese inferences that it was the businesses that went into bankruptcy and not Trump himself, that Trump was the owner and CEO who made the executive decisions that put those businesses in bankruptcy, that he made the decision to start bankruptcy proceedings after consulting his economic “advisors,” and that every time he filed for bankruptcy thousands and thousands of jobs and livelihoods were lost. Trump never had to claw and crawl his way anywhere. Money begets money, and that’s where Trump came from. He hasn’t shared the wealth, he has only tried to hoard it, which is generally what the very rich do.
New York Review of Books writer, Michael Tomasky, discussed his theory of this year’s unlikely candidates in the November 5, 2015 edition of that magazine:
“It is the season, we are told, of the outsider. The people are fed up with politics and politicians and both parties….Just look at how the establishment candidates are floundering. It’s the outsiders and nonpoliticians who are thriving. This proves that…well, that people are sick of the status quo and the dysfunction and want someone who can shake the system to its roots…
“The Republican [frontrunner candidates] truly are political neophytes—n[either] has even run for office before…
“They have two qualities in common. First, n[either] is a Republican elected official, which means that n[either] is to blame for what conservatives see as the GOP’s constant capitulations to the Obama agenda. Second, [both] of them have made the kind of personal impression that conservatives appear to be looking for this time around. They present themselves as sworn foes of liberalism, political correctness, immigration, Obama, and compromise.
“People on the left believe that systems are corrupt. People on the right tend to believe that the system (at least as they understand its design) is just fine, and it’s individual people who are too corrupt or too weak to propel it towards its full greatness. Thus partisans of the right lean more toward a version of Thomas Carlyle’s view that history is about great men (and now women, too), which elevates biography to the level of supreme importance, while partisans of the left care less about the outsider’s life story than his criticism of power and how he will challenge it. These differing conceptions dictate how the candidates present themselves and even how they would govern, should one of them become president.” 6 (emphasis mine.)
We are heading into the season of Advent. Last weekend’s Gospel scripture reading (LK 21:25-28, 34-36) actually describes an eschatological—end times—prescription to be wary and be prepared for the unexpected event of the returning of Christ. I particularly appreciated the scripture reflection of Sr. Maria Boulding, OSB in my daily prayer book of hours 7:
“The Advent we keep is not a poetic make-believe, or a nostalgic historical pageant, or even an exercise in remembering our roots… The coming of God in Christ still continues, and will be consummated in a coming and a gift beyond the stretch of our hope. We are an Advent people. The season of Advent celebrates in symbolic form a reality of our own lives and of all humanity’s destiny with God, because he who came in weakness at Bethlehem is he who will come again.
“Constantly he comes. He came as a man into our human situation, accepted human experience as his own and lived it through to the bitter end, in order that what was bitter might be turned into sweetness and human experience become an expression of his sacrificial, redeeming love. He has transformed it from the inside, and offered us the possibility of allowing him to transform it in our lives too… He is born in us continually as our minds, our actions, our reactions, our relationships, our experience and our prayer are [are sustained with his message]…this is a lifetime’s task…”
We are an Advent people—and believe me, it sometimes feels like we are endlessly and constantly in the advent of the political season. We are an Advent people because we are constantly hoping for a better tomorrow, for the turning of a new leaf that will realize Christ’s vision on earth.
But, if we are preparing ourselves for the realization of Christ’s vision, why do we elevate people that Christ would be ashamed of? Why do we push forward leaders who don’t represent or reflect ourselves? Why would we put on a pedestal people without any classical, ethical, or theological virtues, but who epitomize several vices? I don’t have a problem with candidates running on an informed Christian platform—as long as they are truly trying to lead upon the path of virtuousness that Christianity advocates for the most needy people in society. But just as President Jimmy Carter noted the hypocrisy of the Christian Coalition with his famous quote, “If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying you want a country based on Christian values, because you don’t”…we should call-out Trump, Carson, and other Republicans to stop scamming the American people with their false Capitalist-Christianity, and decry their platform initiatives for what they are: class-economic meritocracy, plutocracy, and ignorance of political science, political policy, history, or diplomacy.
 NBC’s Meet the Press, Sunday morning show with Chuck Todd; NOV 29 2015, 11:21 AM ET. Transcript of that program can be found here: http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/meet-press-november-29-2015-n470871 (last accessed 11-29-2015. Video of the episode is also available at the network’s website.).
 “Carson: Syrian refugees don’t want to go to US.” Omar Akour and Steve Peoples. The Associated Press, Sunday, November 29, 2015 (In the New York Times this article can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/11/28/world/middleeast/ap-ml-gop-2016-carson-refugee-camp.html?_r=0 ).
 NBC’s Meet the Press, NOV 29 2015 11:21 AM EST (see note 1 above).
 “Very Improbable Candidates.” [book review] by Michael Tomasky. The New York Review of Books. November 5, 2015 / Volume LXII, Number 17, pp 18-20.
 “Reflection [on the First Sunday of Advent], Sunday, November 29, 2015” Sr. Maria Boulding, OSB. Give Us This Day, November 2015, Volume 5, Issue 11, © 2015 Liturgical Press (Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, MN). pp 302-303.