09/23/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Democrats Seek To Reinvent Themselves In The New West

With the exception of the sky, which is the color of faded blue jeans, everything in downtown Denver looks new.

The light bounces off the windows of the just-built condominiums, and a suspension bridge has only recently opened to connect LoDo (Lower Denver) with the 'burbs. To get to the Pespi Convention Center, where the action is, one crosses Manny Bridge, named after one of the first men to invest in this part of town, when the banks still weren't giving loans; now, Manny lives a few blocks down, next door to the mayor in a renovated loft.

At 9am on a Saturday morning, the cranes are swinging (200 new condos and a Chipotle the construction woman tells me), the line at the Starbucks is out the door, and an energy-efficient free shuttle creeps down the pedestrian mall. Even the Big Tent, where the alt media are hanging out this year, is still under construction, its bright white flaps fluttering as workers scurry to bring in chairs and couches.

The West, long a symbol of newness and fresh starts, seems made this year for the Democrats, who are seeking to re-invent their party and erase the legacy of the Bush Administration. Among the eco-friendly buildings, the bikes and Obama shirts, one could easily forget that McCain is up five points in the latest poll and the war in Iraq rages on. Here in Denver, the sun is shining and the streets look freshly clean, as if last night had been a gulley-washer instead of only a few drops of rain in the desert.