It wasn't so long ago that America often looked west for enlightened, progressive leadership. And frequently found it, in people like Mike Mansfield, Frank Church, Cecil Andrus, Stewart and Mo Udall, Tim Wirth, and Gary Hart.
Our view is that the West can again show the rest of the country the way forward.
A new generation of progressive leaders is rising in the region. In ways that reflect the West's independence, pragmatism, and can-do spirit, they are moving to solve knotty problems that afflict not just our eight states but the nation as a whole.
Long treated as little more than a fossil fuel colony, the West is discovering its potential to lead the U.S. in transitioning to a new energy economy based on renewables and committed to attacking global climate change. In that challenge we see opportunities to revive rural communities and provide stable, family-affirming jobs.
Faced with the fastest growth rates in the U.S., western communities are grappling with innovative ways to cope sensibly and sustainably with the associated problems of transportation, education, health care and preservation of open space.? With the unique status and tensions that come from having huge blocks of federal land across our states, westerners are building new coalitions of sportsmen and conservationists to preserve open landscapes and recreational opportunities.
Sitting on the front lines of the immigration battlefield, western states aren't waiting for Washington to act. They are working to meet the needs of industry and business for labor while respecting concerns about security and honoring America's tradition of empathy and inclusion.
As it moves forward on these fronts, the West can draw on great strengths, not the least of which is a pioneering tradition of overcoming obstacles. But we must also realize that the complexity of the problems we face demand that we move beyond our geographic and cultural differences and reach across state lines to learn from one another.
That is why Western Progress, while honoring the distinctions between Montana and New Mexico, Colorado and Idaho, takes a regional approach. By linking western progressives to each other, and to national progressives as the West becomes more important politically, Western Progress can leverage our strengths. Working together, the sum can be greater than the parts, increasing the progressive clout of the Rocky Mountain West. As Wallace Stegner said, cooperation is the key to creating in the West a "society to match the scenery."
Our people, our economies, and our environment depend upon it.