AL Secretary of State and candidate for U.S. Senate John Merrillrecently made some head-scratching and ridiculous comments at a Republican function saying, “[Americans] are preoccupied with homosexual activities” and “the wife swap shows.” Later, he doubled down on his absurd claim to AL.com saying, “The foundational principles which we have grown up as a nation are no more. There’s no more TV shows like ‘Gunsmoke’ or ‘Bonanza’ or ‘The Virginian’ or ‘I Love Lucy’ or ‘Andy Griffith.’ [I] said people are too interested in homosexual activities. They’re too interested in the wife swap TV shows and the shows that are not morally uplifting. That’s the problem.”
That’s THE problem?
Who knew that Festus on ‘Gunsmoke’ was the oracle of morality or held the secret answers to solving thorny political issues like voter disenfranchisement? Maybe, if we listened to Barney Fife we could end the scourge of systemic racial profiling by law enforcement, but instead, according to Merrill, we’re just obsessively preoccupied with ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’ and ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’.
Seriously, what channel is John Merrill watching? In this modern age of highly selective pay-per-view, someone from his cable company ought to help him out before his viewing habits lead him inexorably to spontaneous gayness and irrepressible urges to wife swap. If only Merrill had a way to exercise parental control over offensive content, he could save himself and his family from an assured descent into immorality and debauchery! It’s up to you, Comcast, to save our nation…
What absolute rubbish! This is nothing more than an example of another Republican politician stirring up cultural division because he has no substantive political platform. Merrill’s record in Alabama has been abysmal. He’s not done a thing to make voting in Alabama easier and he’s used his position to simply parrot extreme right-wing rhetoric. As a senatorial candidate, he has no ideas on how to improve healthcare, prevent rural hospitals from closing, or address growing wealth disparity in his state or nation. Yet, he seems pretty sure that if you quit watching ‘The Bachelor’, that infant mortality and opioid and HIV deaths will decline immediately. A few episodes of ‘I Love Lucy’ might just prevent teenage pregnancy and end all abortions!
Merrill has no plan except to be a rubber stamp for Trump’s knee-jerk agenda and to continue blaming Hollywood for all the nation’s ills and perceived immorality in the world. Maybe, he’s afraid of his rival, Roy Moore, and he’s seeking to win the “Most Self-Righteous Religious Zealot” vote. The cynical truth is that Merrill knows exactly what he’s doing and that he’s keenly aware that throwing fuel on the culture war dumpster fire will certainly engage the extremists that comprise the base of his party.
Merrill’s campaign website makes it very clear that the only thing he really cares about is building a wall on the Southern border in order to get a Trump tweet endorsement. He offers no ideas on how to reform the immigration system or any details on why he thinks a wall will fix the refugee crisis. Other than that, he just wants people to know that he’s the most conservative Conservative that ever conserved and that he’s going to root out socialism every chance he gets, even if he or his base isn’t really sure what that means.
As they say, “All hat and no cattle.” So, that’s why Merrill wants voters to blame cable television, because he thinks the world would be so much better if it just looked more like Mayberry, right? Or, maybe because he has absolutely nothing to bring to the table except divisive rhetoric. Hopefully, the voters will see through this charade. Hopefully, they’ll take some direction from Barney Fife and, “Nip it in the bud!”
In the meantime, Merrill’s probably hard at work trying to figure out Ricky Ricardo’s immigration status…
Clete Wetli is former Chair of the Madison County Democrats and a liberal political activist.