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What Makes a Progressive? Words and Actions, Trolls and Activists

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Harkening back to the early days of blogging it is time to respond to those who would throw out harsh words without having the facts to back them up.

Pete Talbot, a writer for The Montana Post, and before that, 4 and 20 blackbirds recently wrote a wonderful piece on income inequality that should be read by all serious progressives. Don Pogreba also recently posted a poll where income inequality was rated as the number one issue among voters:

What Issue Most Motivates You as A Voter?

Pete Talbot concluded his income inequality post thusly:

What does this all mean for Montana’s middle class? Well, maybe if the wealthy aren’t driving up the prices in the housing market, houses become more affordable. And maybe if your paycheck is a little better and you’re not shelling out big bucks for health care, you can afford that downpayment on a starter house.

The phony “populist” message of a Donald Trump: deregulation or immigrants stealing your jobs or “tax cuts paid for by growth” or repealing Obamacare… are all wearing thin. So, Democrats, don’t shy away from a progressive, economic message. A living wage would be a good start, as would a more progressive tax system and a single-payer health care plan.

And maybe we can put a dent in income inequality in Montana and the rest of the country.

This received an inappropriate response online that called into question the intelligence of my fellow writer here at The Montana Post, Pete Talbot. Though later the author states that Pete isn’t stupid, but does question Pete’s motives for writing his piece on income inequality. This is cynical, rude, disgusting and has no place in the debate.

I know of very few online writers who are more genuine and dedicated solely to progressive values and causes than Pete Talbot. Pete is one of the founders of the Montana Progressive Democrats. He is also the elected leader of the group as well and it has sway in the Montana state Democratic Party where Pete votes on behalf of progressive democrats on the executive board.

The Montana Progressive Democrats is a group that was established after the 2016 elections to begin the hard work of repairing our party after that election year that we are still feeling the effects of. Pete has been writing online for progressive causes for over a decade, he has been active in campaigns his whole life and is a proud Missoulian activist.

The accuser sounds just like an online troll, not someone who cares about a real debate. The difference couldn’t be starker. Here is the nasty quote about Pete from this other blog that I will not name:

If it really is the economy, stupid, then how stupid is someone like Pete Talbot? In a recent post, titled We’re #1! In income inequality, that is, Talbot reminds MP readers of James Caraville’s infamous phrase. He goes on to suggest that this message could be a winning one for Democrats in 2018 because income inequality has skyrocketed in states like Montana.

Here is how Talbot explains why income inequality exists (warning: this description could make you actually stupider about the economy):

What’s behind this disparity? It’s “due to the rapid income growth among the upper class,” which has “increased the cost of real estate throughout the state and made housing less affordable for many members of the middle class.” Which also means that more-and-more of the average family’s paycheck is going to rent or mortgage payments. No surprise there.

I don’t think Pete Talbot is stupid, but I’m wondering how stupid Talbot thinks progressives are. Referencing Bill Clinton and the economy without mentioning the repeal of Glass-Steagall is just one glaring omission. The description above is another pathetically sparse explanation of what has happened, economically, in our state and our country.

I have never read the articles on this site before and I was merely sent to it by our site analytics that mentioned a redirect from this place.

I will never be returning to the website. While the issues can be debated, calling a fellow progressive activist stupid or worse is grounds for me to never give that place a click again.

Choosing to put motives like that onto Pete or other people who actually do the work is wrong and we are better than that. Not everything needs to be a fight and we need to learn to pick our battles better as progressives.

Pete has put the work in longer than almost anyone and Don Pogreba as well. Don founded this site in 2005 and it has become a forum for progressive ideas and banter and I just felt the need to let people know that while we can disagree this type of behavior is not acceptable.

It is not the only behavior like this I have seen of late, from folks all over the spectrum, from centrists to progressive democrats and I join in with others to say it is time for this online negativity to end and to focus on the real issues at hand, like the ones Pete addressed in his income inequality post.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.
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