The Grim Reaper is choosing the wrong people to die young. Not that I’d wish an early death on anyone, but there are some passings I’d be okay with.

Our friend Tim Carpenter certainly should not have been on the die-young list, and I’m not okay with it (which is why it has taken me a week even to write about it). He had way too much savvy, energy, dedication, intelligence, chutzpa, generosity, tenacity, pure progressive spirit, and so much more to leave us at 55 (though I must concede that he produced at least 110 years of good in his allotted 55, so he actually lived twice as long as the calendar shows).

In calling Tim ‘our’ friend, I not only include me and the many others who got to know him over the years in various progressive causes, and most recently through Progressive Democrats of America, which he created and made into an important force in the Democratic Party and the larger Populist cause. But I also include the people of progressive spirit everywhere who never met the guy or even heard his name. He’s your friend, too, because he spread that spirit and moved our shared democratic ideals of fairness and justice a little closer to realization. A pragmatic idealist, Tim actually put some progress in ‘progressive.’

Above all, he was a supreme organizer, which is why his name is not more widely known — he was the force behind the scenes, making things happen and persuading ‘names’ to get out front on big and often tough policy fights. He constantly pushed others into the limelight, and leadership roles, taking special notice of good young activists and advancing them.

Indeed, Carpenter was such an irrepressible organizer that he kept at it right to the end, pulling together a big national confab that’ll bring Bernie Sanders, me and hundreds of others to Western Massachusetts this coming Saturday, May 10 to celebrate PDA’s 10th anniversary and to strategize about its next decade of work. With the basics of this PDApalooza in place, Tim checked out of this world. I’m a little suspicious that he intentionally organized and timed his final event so we’d all be there and turn it into a glorious wake.

Which we definitely will do. This one’s for you, Tim — you are what democracy is.

Go to for more information or to leave a message about Tim.

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