Politics: Beer Me, Beer Me Not

June 2012

This week, District 7 congressional candidate Joe Coors migrated his “I’m not a beer” radio ad to television. The attempt to distinguish himself from his family’s brewing dynasty has been well received for its humor and folksiness, traits that always resonate on the campaign trail.

Why Coors would risk evoking one of the GOP's notoriously un-shining moments (Richard Nixon's "I am not a crook" quote) is a question for his handlers. Regardless, in the ad, Coors gives an aw-shucks account of himself as a humble and hard-working businessman from the porcelain trade. (A company that helped support the Coors beer biz during Prohibition.) Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. It’s hard to tell for sure when someone’s identity is so closely tied to a vast family fortune. If Coors, who's self-funding his campaign, were to beat incumbent Ed Perlmutter this fall, he’d instantly be in the running for the title of the wealthiest member of Congress.

Much like Mitt Romney in the presidential election, Coors—along with countless other candidates this year and in the past several elections—is arguing that government should be run more like a business, and that his personal financial acumen is just what Washington needs.

Romney has gone so far as to propose a Constitutional amendment that would require anyone running for president to have at least three years’ experience in the business sector. This prerequisite would have erased half of Mount Rushmore—Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt—knocked out FDR, Coolidge, JFK, LBJ, and Clinton, and even eliminated such conservative darlings as Dwight Eisenhower and Saint Ronald Reagan. Harry Truman would have made the ballot but probably couldn't have gotten elected because he was a failed haberdasher. Among the past presidents who would qualify: Herbert Hoover and George W. Bush. Do I need to go on?

We must find ways to make our government run more efficiently. But while the government does business, it is not a business. It’s far more complex than that, and it requires people who know how to govern. These leaders must compromise and grow consensus in ways that almost no business leaders are accustomed to doing, for the simple reason that almost no businesses, big or small, runs like a democracy.

Lately, of course, our democracy doesn't even run like a democracy. The solution to that is not to elect fewer (small-d) democratic leaders; it's to elect more of them. So whether you’re for or against Joe Coors, we can all probably agree that his “I’m not a beer” ad is cute and tart. At least, it’s not negative. It does, however, raise one vital question:

Can anything with the name “Coors” on it actually be called a beer?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.