Existential Crisis: The New Republican Brand


In the mid-1950s, “Mad” magazine popularized the image of Alfred E. Neuman proclaiming, “What, me worry?” Nowadays, Neuman would be a strong messenger for a new Republican slogan: “What, me try?”

As Kara Mason reports for the Aurora Sentinel, Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) held a town hall meeting on Tuesday in Greenwood Village in which a central theme of inaction quickly emerged. Coffman received a lot of questions on a host of different issues, but the basic underlying query was the same: Why won’t you do something?

Coffman said at a town hall meeting Tuesday he’d look into age restrictions on gun purchases and sides with President Donald Trump’s move to regulate ‘bump stocks,’ devices that allow semiautomatic guns to operate like fully automatic weapons.

Gun legislation dominated the hour-long meeting…

…Coffman told the crowd he supports strengthening background checks, and that no firearm should be in the hands of an irresponsible gun owner, and said he wondered if an 18-year-old can be a responsible gun owner. But he stopped short of making any indication that he’d support legislation that would limit the purchase of “military-style guns,” which was asked of him by more than one attendee at the town hall.

If it sounds like Coffman was waffling on Tuesday, it’s because that was the strategy for dealing with tough questions. Here’s the money quote:

“The West is different,” said Josh Penry, a veteran GOP strategist and Coffman adviser. “There’s this basic understanding that Congress passing a lot of laws isn’t going to stop evil people from committing evil acts.” [Pols emphasis]

You see, here in the “West,” people understand that there is no point in trying to do anything at all!


As conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin explains today in the Washington Post, it’s not just on the issue of gun violence where Republicans are defaulting to the “shrug” emoji:

One can look at guns and dreamers as discrete issues, but they can also be seen as issues on which Democrats want to change the status quo, while Republicans would prefer a logjam. The GOP is a prisoner to its anti-immigrant base and to the NRA, both of which would love for nothing to be done on their respective issues. [Pols emphasis] Democrats not only have substantive support for legalizing dreamers and toughening gun laws, but they can make the case that the GOP is thwarting the will of the people and is beholden to special interests. That is a dangerous position for Trump — who promised to shake things up — and his party to be in.

As we noted yesterday, a new poll from Quinnipiac University demonstrates “the highest level of support ever measured” for gun control policies in the United States.

The. Highest. Ever.

“Doing nothing” is not a strategy you can effectively explain to people — particularly to our youngest generation of Americans who are fed up with inactivity. As one Florida high school student eloquently explained:

“We’re all here because we need to strive for change, and the legislation needs to change, because we’ve fallen victim to lazy legislation for far too long,” student Kai Koerber said.

Policies matter. Positions matter. Elections matter. For many, many Americans, November can’t come soon enough.

16 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. RepealAndReplace says:

    Memo to Penry……

    Remember back 18 years ago when the voters in this wild west state approved Amendment 22 – a ballot initiative to require backgrounds checks? By a better than two-to-one margin?

    The west is different – if you define "the west" as simply Mesa County.

  2. Diogenesdemar says:

    Hey, hey, hey . . . 

    Do nothing?  Hardly!

    There’s walls to be built.  Donors whose taxes need to be eliminated.  Brown people to deport.  Guns to be sold. An entire planetary environment to be exploited and degraded.   Public lands and property to be given to Oligarchs. And, don’t forget, uteruses that require constant monitoring and regulation.

    The GOPers only want to do nothing about those things they don’t want to change.

  3. MichaelBowman says:

    I'm trying to imagine what a Senate committee hearing featuring Mr. Rogers might look like in today's world?  

  4. mamajama55 says:

    What, there are no female 'Publicans? I see 6 male faces, 1 neutral cartoony face, representing the "new Republican brand".

  5. JohnInDenver says:

    But we did something, says the modern Republican. We passed a tax cut for you … you know, you can see it on your pay stub now.  And it will be there for awhile, but is scheduled to sundown (because of our arcane budget rules).

    Not mentioning the cuts for those NOT working for a living are larger, and the corporate tax cuts larger yet. And sometime, when we get around to paying for the debt, I'm betting Republicans will want cuts to be still in place for the rich and corporations.

    • MADCO says:

      You don't have to predict – they are open about it: eliminate Medicaid and Medicare, cut Social Security.

      They will claim we can't afford them.

      And then they will cut taxes further for the oligarchy , aka plutonomy.

      But it's ok – rich people are better than us, and shouldn't have to pay taxes at all.

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