At a recent appearance at the Madison County, AL Republican Men’s Club breakfast, senate candidate and former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville made some bizarre comments about Alabama public education. First, he claimed that improving schools meant God needed to be in the classroom and said, “There are ten states in this country that a certain faith can pray five times a day in public schools, but our kids can’t say the Lord’s Prayer. A double standard. We’re losing because we’ve got our eyes closed.” Maybe, someone should point out that Tuberville’s the one with his eyes closed if he doesn’t know that most teachers in Alabama have spent their money purchasing school supplies for their students due to woeful underfunding.

Maybe, Tuberville could open his eyes to the issues in Alabama regarding the retirement system for educators, graduation rates, or below national average test scores. Instead, it seems he’s all about some thoughts and prayers.

Next, he went on to say that 15 years ago, teachers suddenly began only teaching their opinions. Tuberville remarked, “They don’t teach out of books, they don’t teach history,” he said. “They teach from their opinion, and it’s socialist ideas.” Of course, he had no evidence to back up his wild allegations, and it’s obvious that he hasn’t been sitting in an Alabama high school history classes lately. Maybe, he was simply trying to impress AL Rep. Mo Brooks, who was sitting nearby, because Mo desperately wants Alabama voters to think that the state is being infiltrated by nefarious Socialists and illegal brown people stealing chicken plant jobs.

Tuberville’s absurd, hackneyed, and extremist conservative remarks made plain that he has not one idea about any of the real issues that face Alabama public education. Further, his commentary unveiled the fact that he has no specific platform or policy positions. Aside from his gaffes on education, his only other pitch was to re-elect Trump because he’s apparently “saved the country.” Yep, only he (Trump) alone can fix it, right? Well, Tuberville certainly isn’t shy about his fanatic love for Trump. A glance at Tuberville’s campaign website reveals it’s nothing more than a regurgitation of talking points from a Trump rally but framed in more complete sentences. Of course, there’s no mention about how Trump’s tariffs are severely hurting Alabama soybean farmer.

Tuberville joins a very long list of Alabama Republican candidates who believe that the only criteria for getting elected in the state is to proclaim that they are the most Christian, most gun-loving, most pro-military, and most anti-immigrant candidate to ever eat sweet potato pie as their sole sustenance when eradicating Socialists or preserving traditional marriage. They’ve no clue as to how to improve the revenue problem in Alabama, fix infrastructure, ensure affordable healthcare, or bring jobs to rural parts of the state. However, they seem certain that making kids say the Lord’s Prayer in class is a logical first step.

This toxic brand of narrow-minded conservative tribalism is what keeps Alabama from thriving. It’s also appears to explain why conservatives can’t seem to hold their own self-serving politicians, like former AL House Speaker Mike Hubbard, accountable. It’s worth noting that Tuberville has zero experience in politics and he somehow thinks that it makes him even more qualified for the position. Well, that might be how they pick head coaches in college football- oh, wait- they would never dream of that- oops, scratch that.

As a last ploy to show that he’s the right candidate for the job, Tuberville promised that he wouldn’t take a salary if elected. Hmmm- wonder where Alabama voters have heard that before? Perhaps, it’s time to remember that, even in politics, you often get exactly what you pay for…

Clete Wetli
Clete Wetli is former Chair of the Madison County Democrats and a liberal political activist.