OPINION: Washington Window: More evidence state politics matter

PAI Union News Service

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 and readers often forget that politics in statehouses matters – often more than Congress does.

Want proof? Look at two examples, one positive for workers in Minnesota, and one negative for workers in 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. Paid family and medical leave has passed. 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 Republican Gov. and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis and the GOP-gerrymandered legislature which follows him like lemmings, especially 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 enacted it. Banning books from schools. Turning back the clock to 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, and flunking those who don’t get a supermajority of the ballots and on and on and on. Things are so bad the Florida Education Association just sued DeSantis in federal court on May 10 for violating teachers’ constitutional rights, especially their right to freely associate by 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 through 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 their “Don’t say gay” law, now in all K-12 grades.

Democracy may be alive and well in Minnesota. It isn’t in Florida. All because Sunshine State voters renewed power for DeSantis and his hooligans last year.

Again, state politics matters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top