State politics is where policy that matters is determined
Right-wing GOP Florida Gov. DeSantis has a grip on political power in his state because of control of the state legislatures and local offices by right-wing Republicans. | AP

With all the concentration on the rocky relations between Democratic President Joe Biden and the radical right-wingers and Trumpites who are puppeteers of the U.S. House Republican majority, voters can easily often forget that politics in statehouses matters—often more than Congress and politics on the national level.

Want proof? Look at two examples, one positive for workers, Minnesota, and one negative for workers, Florida.

The Minnesota legislature is on the verge of outlawing so-called “captive audience” meetings—the closed-door secret sessions bosses use to lie, intimidate, browbeat, and threaten with discipline workers who dare to stand up for their rights.

But captive audience meetings in the Land of Lakes may soon be dead as a dodo bird. That’s because voters changed state politics last fall by not only re-electing Gov. Tim Walz, DFL-Minn., an Education Minnesota union member but also installing, for the first time in years, a DFL-controlled legislature in St. Paul.

Family leave passed too

Paid family and medical leave has passed too. An anti-Amazon bill is pending.

Why? It’s “a trifecta.” Sure, the State Senate margin is only 34-33, but that makes a difference.

As State Sen. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, an RN and former executive director of the Minnesota Nurses Association told a mid-May press conference: “As powerful as corporations are, and they are powerful actors in our communities, in this legislature, across the state and in our economy, we need to make sure people who work for a living are equally powerful.”

Now, look at Florida, featuring rabid rightist Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican gerrymandered legislature which follows him like lemmings on social issues, with teachers and public schools as their top target. Florida has a trifecta, too—a right-wing Republican one.

You name it, and DeSantis and his legislative lap dogs have done it. Banning books from schools. Turning back the clock to days when Blacks were at the back of the bus. Outlawing abortion.

Restricting voter rights. Abolishing teacher tenure at state-supported colleges. Forcing public worker unions, especially Education Florida locals, to stand for recertification by members every year, flunking those who don’t get a supermajority of the ballots, and on and on and on.

Things have gotten so bad the union on May 10 sued DeSantis in federal court for violating the U.S. Constitution’s right to peaceably assemble for the redress of grievances…for joining unions.

How can DeSantis get away with an incipient domestic dictatorship?

Because the Florida Trumpite trifecta not only gives him what he and they want, but ensures they stay in power in perpetuity by rigging future elections by denying voting rights to anyone who doesn’t toe the party line. That means disenfranchising Blacks, Hispanic-named people, young people, and workers, among others.  And don’t forget DeSantis’s “Don’t say gay” school law.

Democracy may be alive and well in Minnesota. It isn’t in Florida. All because Sunshine State voters put DeSantis and his regiments back in power last year. Like we said, state elections matter.

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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.