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Head west, Democrats

Tamara Miller

Democrats have a chance to show just how serious they really are about shedding their elite, coast-centric image by holding the 2008 National Convention in Denver.

Our state’s capital city is competing with New York City for the bid. It’s not looking good for the Mile High City, though. Union labor leaders won’t sign a “no-strike” agreement with the national Democratic Party. And there are persistent doubts about whether Denver can afford to host the convention, let alone find room for the thousands of attendees.

Certainly, New York City, which hosted the Republican Convention in 2004, seems to be the obvious choice. That alone should force Democrats to make every effort to bring the convention out west.

There’s been much ado about the recent Democratic takeover of Congress. The blue party has historically positioned itself as the political answer for working folks and middle-class families. Democrats fought for worker’s rights, civil rights and women’s rights.

But in recent years, the Democratic Party has seemed to be more about the haves than the have-nots. Celebrity endorsements may sell perfume and running shoes, but having Alec Baldwin’s backing did little to help John Kerry get elected. Democrats have been right to oppose ultra-right wing Christian zealotry. But the party as a whole has done little to acknowledge and embrace spirituality – despite the fact that most Americans are religious.

Current Democratic ideals can and do fit into the western political landscape. In recent years, the blue party has championed environmental protections like the Clean Air Act and Clinton’s Forest Plan – while Republicans have sought to undermine those protections. While some Republicans like to ignore compelling evidence about the global warming threat – like Sen. James Inhofe, the former chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee – most Westerners are not only convinced, but concerned. After all, the health of Colorado tourism depends on having snow to ski on, rivers to raft in and trees to hike between.

Democrats have respected our right to privacy by opposing the Bush Administration’s quest to listen in our phone calls.

Make no mistake, though. Democrats can’t expect to win in 2008 just by pointing out Bush’s failures.

The time is ripe for Democrats to capitalize on their recent wins in the west and holding their convention in New York City is no way to do it.

We need a solution to the war in Iraq. We need a plan for global warming that environmentalists and economists can accept. We need an immigration policy that keeps Americans safe, while keeping our economy running.

We need candidates like our new governor Bill Ritter – a candidate who is driven by what he thinks is right for Colorado, instead of adhering to a party platform.

We need a Democratic Party that champions moderate political views, that searches for comprises and looks and sounds a lot like the average American. Holding a convention in Denver may be largely symbolic. But it would be a good sign that Democrats are interested in represent the rest of us. VT

E-mail comments about this column to tmiller@vailtrail.com.


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