Colorado beer magnate and U.S. Senate hopeful Pete Coors cannot
be accused of ignoring the issues that affect the 18- to
21-year-old demographic in his state.
While much of the CSU student body had retreated to a blissful
state of summer relaxation, Coors was stumping out his campaign
platform to Republicans across Colorado. Among the issues brought
up (for many of you the only issue worth bringing up) was Coors’
desire to lower the drinking age from 21 back to 18.
Coors’ stance on the issue was debated this summer during a
breakfast at a noted celebrity hangout and social hotspot, the
Arapahoe County Republican Men’s Club. During the breakfast
gathering, former GOP Senate primary rival Bob Schafer sought to
differentiate his beliefs with those of Coors by bringing up his
rival’s previously quoted views on the legal drinking age.
“We got along fine for years with the 18-year-old drinking age,”
the beer baron said to his constituency. “We’re criminalizing our
It is unclear at the moment to whom the “we” in this statement
is referring. However, if any of those indicted in last week’s
riots are in need of a character witness, Coors may be your man.
Any rational judge or magistrate would no doubt buy into this
forced “criminilization” theory coming from the man who brought the
Coors Twins into our living rooms.
Herein lies the real validity of this issue: Would lowering the
drinking age actually help to prevent situations like those that
occurred the weekend before classes began?
Allow us to digress for a moment to a time of big hair and
acid-washed denim. The year was 1987, which for many of you may be
difficult to remember. However, for young booze hounds, Colorado
was truly the land of milk and honey. All that was required was an
ID, valid or otherwise, stating that your true age was 18, and
access to a “bar” serving only 3.2 percent beer could be yours.
Unfortunately for today’s youth, the ’80s was a time of rampant
unchecked social conservatism. Riding the coattails of Nancy
Reagan’s DARE program, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and Len Bias’
cocaine overdose before he ever got to nail a shot for the Celtics,
the federal government began to impose its will of a higher
drinking age on the states. For those who dared to defy it, the
government promised to withhold highway funding until said states’
roads regressed to impassable conditions and the state’s commerce
Needless to say, Colorado succumbed to the pressure, soon to be
followed by other states such as Wyoming, until finally the last
bastion of youthful indiscretion, Louisiana, gave in.
Flash forward to the present: Today, if you are younger than 21
and the desire to belly up at a local drinking establishment
strikes you, living near the Canadian border would be recommended.
For many though, things are as they should be. There are strong
voices out there that say underage drinking is a serious problem in
this country. That these voices come from people whose cars weren’t
even vandalized last weekend lends more credibility to their
beliefs. According to one national advocacy group, the
International Institute for Alcohol Awareness:
In 2001 alone, alcohol consumption by underage drinkers led to
3,212 deaths and 2.4 million other harmful events in the lives of
families and citizens. Alcohol kills and injures more youths than
all illegal drugs combined.
The feasibility of Coors actually enacting a new law mandating a
lowered drinking age is somewhere between zero and nil. The powers
that be in the Republican Party are more worried about what
homosexual people are doing with themselves at the moment. Coming
from Coors, however, it is interesting food for thought. Perhaps
next we will see an heir to the Philip Morris tobacco fortune run
for senator of North Carolina on a platform of lowering the age for
buying cigarettes to 15.