PDA National Director Tim Carpenter Dies: Progressives Push ‘Forward’

Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter speaking at Progressive Central, outside the DNC in Charlotte, 2012.

The New Progressive Era lost a giant with the passing of Tim Carpenter on Monday, following a protracted battle with cancer.

As co-founder and National Director of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), Tim was a force of nature. His energy and determination were contagious. He lit the room with his larger-than-life personality and his jolly smile. Tim was my friend, my mentor, and my comrade in the fight for economic and social justice in the United States and the world. Along with 1000s of PDA members nationwide, I will miss him.

I first met Tim in February 2011. It was a dark time in Arizona. Democrats were downtrodden following the 2010 “shellacking” the Teapublicans gave us in the midterm election. Arizona Republicans had won control of  our entire state government. Tucson was reeling from the recent shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at a north side Safeway. And the Arizona Democratic Party was controlled by the No Labels Republican-Lite faction.

At the inaugural meeting of PDA Tucson,Tim’s fiery speech about progressive values and the way forward gave us hope.

Along with PDA Board members actress/activist Mimi Kennedy and populist commentator Jim Hightower, Congressman Raul Grijalva, and PDA Tucson coordinator Phil Lopes, Tim addressed a standing-room-only crowd of more than 300 activists and Democratic Party faithful at that first meeting of PDA Tucson. (Original blog post here.)

Inspired, many of us have been integrally involved in PDA on a local, statewide, and national level since that night. Each year, grassroots PDA leaders meet with PDA board members and national staff in Winslow, Arizona. (Yes, Winslow!)

Tim couldn’t join the Winslow Group this year because of his health. We all knew he was dying, and as you can expect, there was much talk about PDA after Tim. We discussed strategy, issues, and new directions that weekend, but no one talked about quitting. PDA will continue and grow, thanks to Tim’s hard work and the tireless support of staff, progressive politicians, and 1000s of grassroots activists who believe in our country’s New Progressive Era.

Tim has been our knight in shining armor for 10 years, and his passing will only strengthen our resolve to take back our country from the oligarchy– the 1%– that has hijacked it.

Tim has ended his long struggle against cancer. It is time for the rest of us to continue the progressive struggle for justice, peace, equality, and democracy.

PDA leaders
PDA National Director Tim Carpenter (left) with other leaders: John Nichols of The Nation, Congressman Alan Grayson, Michael Lighty of National Nurses United, and Steve Cobble, co-founder of PDA.

I’ll end with Tim’s words from a June 1, 2013 speech in Los Angeles (video below).

Help us grow this movement. Help us put 450 activists at every Congressional office and another 100 activists at every US Senate office to say, “Not only is it time to end this war. Not only is it time to bring about healthcare as a human right. But it’s time for our community to stop turning its back on those that desperately need us.”

It’s not just about the middle class, but as Thom Hartman, Jim Hightower, and others have said, it’s about the 50 million people in this country who are poor. It’s time to talk about the fact that this month Congress will cut more money from the Food Stamp Program if we remain silent. It is our responsibility to join Jim McGovern and take that fight into Congressional offices. 

While I have some personal struggles over the next couple of months and I may not be with all of you out there in the those streets, I will be there in spirit.

The First Progressive Era brought many changes to this country, including direct election of US Senators, the women’s right to vote, and humane labor laws. We have our work cut out for us. We face dark money regressive forces that want to wipe out the progress our country has made thanks to the ideals and legislation generated by the War on Poverty and Johnson’s Great Society, Roosevelt’s New Deal, and the First Progressive Era.

Tim and others laid the groundwork of the New Progressive Era over the past decade. It is our job to move forward. As John Nichols has said, to save our democracy, we need at least three Constitutional Amendments: 1) end Citizens United and declare corporations are NOT people and money is NOT speech; 2) guarantee the right to vote for all adults in the US; 3) eliminate the Electoral College and allow the people to directly elect the President of the US. I would actually add a few goals to that list: 1) pass the Equal Rights Amendment; 2) create a nationwide clean elections system; 3) eliminate gerrymandering and create a nationwide independent redistricting commission; and 4) foster a state public banking system to grow local economies.

As Tim would say, “Forward…”

If you want to join us in fighting for the New Progressive Era, check out PDA’s website here.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKXG5wg4iyg]

The Winslow Group

PDA leaders

Viva la huelga, Tim. See you on the other side.


1 thought on “PDA National Director Tim Carpenter Dies: Progressives Push ‘Forward’”

  1. Well done! This is a very moving and motivating tribute to Tim Carpenter whose name will be forever tied to the new progressivism of the USA. Tim’s tireless work, his vision for a better world, and his deep courage to confront and speak truth to power will ensure his place in history. It was my distinct pleasure to work with him for many years and it is our shared responsibility to continue to “expand our community” as he said it so powerfully.

Comments are closed.