Former President Barack Obama stars in a promotional video against gerrymandering released Wednesday by the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), an organization formed by former Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder’s group aims to fight partisan redistricting.
In the nearly three-minute video, Obama advocates for “protecting” democracy through “rethinking the way we draw our congressional districts.”
Obama explains the logistics of gerrymandering and the effect it might have on representation in Congress, detailing how technology permits the party in power to “precision-draw” the map and win more seats with fewer votes.
“It means that politicians don’t have to worry as much about a serious challenge from the other side,” Obama said. “That moves our debate from the rational, reasonable middle, where most Americans are, to the extremes. And that makes common sense policies that most Americans support less likely.”
Founded in 2016, the NDRC is a not-for-profit 527 organization that combats gerrymandering through legal action, grassroots mobilization and elections, according to the group’s website.
In the video, Obama said he supports the NDRC because “politicians shouldn’t pick their voters; voters should pick their politicians.”
Obama said the practice tends to benefit special interests like those “who want to protect tax breaks for the most powerful or the gun lobby or environmental polluters.”
“But it’s not good for our children,” Obama said. “And regardless of our party affiliations, it’s not good for our democracy.”
The video comes just months before the November midterm elections. Primaries have yet to take place in over 20 states before the general elections for the House and Senate on Nov. 6.
Obama noted in the video that this year’s elections are of great significance since the officials elected will serve during the redistricting process in 2021. He then called on voters to elect candidates who find common cause with the NDRC and support fair redistricting.
“Help our democracy work better by electing representatives who actually represent all of us once again,” the former president said.
In this year’s election cycle, the NDRC will target 12 states, including Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio — four traditionally-blue or swing states President Trump won in 2016.
Obama has taken up congressional redistricting as a primary cause since his departure from the White House to challenge the Republican majorities in Congress.
The Supreme Court recently declined to hear two cases about gerrymandering.
SOURCE: KRISTINE GUILLAUME