Saturday, 30 August 2008

On the road from Denver

OK, not quite on the road. More like in Denver International waiting for a flight to Chicago. Hardly Jack Kerouac but never mind.

Politically, culturally, economically, Denver is a city that is confident in its place in the world. I was truly amazed to find, in the midst of a Convention, a city that has a laid back atmosphere, is one of the most welcoming places I've been, and a feel that suggests a self confidence to look forward and seize the new economy. Perhaps the Denver Art Museum, a Daniel Libeskind design reminiscent of an imperial battle ship in Star Wars, is the most potent symbol of the city's often understated but resolute confidence. Denver, Colorado gets it and this is in no small part due to the Governor, Bill Ritter Jr. See Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker this week on how Democrats have won this Western State.

In the upcoming Senate race, Democrat Mark Udall has an average seven point lead on his neo-liberal rival, Bob Shaffer in the seat vacated by Republican, Wayne Allard. More gains are therefore expected here come November. And, Obama has a full throttle campaign in Colorado that has him a squeak ahead of McCain but it's far too close to call. The West is a new battleground with its growing Latino population, latte drinking professional communities, and environmental concern. My, how the West can be won....

What is striking, watching TV ads for the various political races that are going on in Colorado currently is the degree to which the environmental agenda has taken hold. For both Republicans and Democrats environmental issues fuse economic progress, job creation, national security, and facing climate change. On the way to the relatively new Denver International Airport, you see fields of solar panels that power its operations. Bill Ritter Jr has been masterful in bringing environmental politics in from the green fringes to the definitive issue of the mainstream.

So now on to Chicago for me and some very interesting people to meet. I've already had a masterclass in Chicago politics while in Denver and now I'm going to see and hear things first hand.

I leave Denver with a sense of having been in this mile high city at one of its most historic times. Barack Obama leaves with his party largely in tact, his poll lead starting to bounce, and the near universal acclaim of the political and media classes. Ready? You bet. Fired up and ready to go.

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