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How Minnesota is Becoming a Laboratory in Pushing Progressive Policy

When Minnesota Democrats won back the majority in the state Senate last fall, they achieved the dream: a trifecta of control across the Legislature and the governor’s office. Nearly four months into the legislative session, Democrats in the state have already tackled protecting abortion rights, legalizing recreational marijuana, and restricting gun access — and they have signaled their plans to take on issues like expanding paid family leave and providing legal refuge to trans youths whose access to gender-affirming and other medical care has been restricted elsewhere. “These [policies] are things that have a direct and clear impact on improving people’s lives,” U.S. Sen. Tina Smith said. “And that’s what Minnesotans are looking for. They’re looking for evidence — just as voters are national — that the government that they elect can deliver results for them.” All voters want is a government that will listen to what the people want, within reason. Interviews with a dozen federal and state lawmakers in Minnesota, as well as progressive activists in the state and across the country, paint a picture of a state fully controlled by Democrats that have offered protections on key Democratic social issues like abortion and LGBTQ rights while maintaining a robust economy and low crime — two subjects allies say simultaneously help curtail conservative narratives about Democratic-run cities. 

It is important to show that cities run by Democrats can do it right. Since attaining the “trifecta” they have done more to improve the quality of their citizen’s lives than some governments have done in years. When the fighting and arguing stop, the government is actually able to accomplish more for the people. Supporters also say Democrats’ accomplishments in Minnesota could offer clues about how the party could effectively send messages about crucial issues heading into the 2024 cycle. “This isn’t about jamming down Democratic priorities. These are proven things that improve people’s lives,” Democratic Gov. Tim Walz said in an interview, adding that his party’s policy goals so far “are about not allowing our people to be demonized” because of “Republicans wanting to go to war on social issues.” It is time that the government starts putting the people first, and following Minnesota’s example.

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