Phil Fragasso thinks this year’s presidential candidates could use a little more Jesus in their lives. His latest book, The Jesus Ticket, satirizes the 2016 presidential election.
Fragasso, a professor in the Carroll School of Management, began his project in October 2015 after seeing the initial flaws in each of the presidential candidates. The book was published six months later and parodizes the issues raised in primary debates, speeches, and candidates’ actions.
In the novel, Fragasso follows the campaign of three fictional candidates: the Republican candidate Ronald J. Drumpf, the Democrat Shillary Clinkton, and the American Ideal Party candidate, Jesus Christ.
Fragasso added Christ into the race to show the more spiritual, humanistic side of politics, he said. Throughout the election cycle, Fragasso became fed up with candidates claiming to be Christian, but not following Christian morals.
“You can’t be elected in this country unless you are a Christian, but yet they don’t act like it,” Fragasso said. “They are all selfish, they are all self-serving, they all lie, they cheat. It’s just terrible.”
In order to come up with content for his book, Fragasso sorted through Bible quotes, focusing on the Sermon on the Mount, and read through transcripts of primary debates.
He drew on a statement Trump made in January: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Fragasso took the situation to the next level, having the fictional character, Drumpf, admit in an interview that he had killed illegal immigrants working on Trumpf Tower and buried them in the foundation of the building.
Fragasso also became fed up with the candidates’ focusing on social issues rather than topics like global warming and infrastructure failure. He wanted to highlight the candidates’ focus on personal gain, rather than issues pertinent to the country in the book.
“What is so horrible about it is people are putting party and their own personal interests above the country, individuals, and the world,” Fragasso said.
Fragasso drew inspiration for the book from Philip Roth’s novel Our Gang, which is a political satire of the Nixon era. His goal was to create a contemporary version of the novel, showing the current flaws in politics.
His writing method is a little different from most authors, he said. Instead of outlining the novel prior to writing, Fragasso lets the storyline go in any direction while writing.
Fragasso’s spontaneous writing style led him to incorporate events taking place beyond the presidential campaign, like the death of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia, into the book. Scalia’s death created another rift between the then-presumptive presidential nominees.
His writing method allowed him to create an unexpected conclusion to the novel.
“The end is a pretty substantial surprise that just kind of came to me as I was approaching the end,” Fragasso said.
Though the new ending would allow Fragasso to create a sequel to The Jesus Ticket, Fragasso is still unsure if he wants to undertake a new project. As new issues and statements from candidates arise, however, Fragasso has been tweeting out commentary and additions to the novel.
Fragasso hopes that, after reading the book, readers will take a second look at American politics and the direction in which the country is heading.
“Something has to change,” Fragasso said. “And it’s not just at the presidential level.”
Featured Image by Evan Vucci/ AP Photo