Obama Returns To Political Spotlight With Speech On Gerrymandering
After six months of vacationing at some of the most lavish resorts on earth, including Richard Branson's own private island in the British Virgin Islands, Obama, as it was foretold by Eric Holder many months ago, is apparently ready to make his valiant return to the political spotlight. His return will come in the form of a speech to be delivered on behalf of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), which just happens to be chaired by Holder. More from the Washington Post:
Obama’s appearance Thursday before a few dozen people at a closed-door event in the District on behalf of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) highlights the balance he is trying to strike as his party seeks to regain its footing at both the state and national levels. Obama does not want to cast “a long shadow,” in the words of Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, but he remains a central figure for a party that has yet to settle on a single strategy to combat President Trump.
Perez said in an interview Sunday that while some Democrats have urged Obama recently, “You’ve got to get out front on issue X or issue Y,” the former president wants instead to “build the bench” for the party. Democrats suffered a greater loss of power during Obama’s tenure than under any other two-term president since World War II.
“Because tomorrow’s president is today’s state senator. And he knows that very personally,” said Perez, referring to Obama’s experience as a state senator in Illinois. “When you lose 900 state legislative seats, those are people who could have been the next governors and senators and Cabinet positions, and that is something that he’s very committed to.”
Of course, after overseeing the loss of over 1,000 Democrat legislative seats during his presidency, it's no wonder that Obama feels some obligation to help Democrats regain an edge by any means necessary. Per Fox News, here is a recap of how many democrat-held seats were lost under Obama's reign:
The Democratic Party suffered huge losses at every level during Obama’s West Wing tenure.
The grand total: a net loss of 1,042 state and federal Democratic posts, including congressional and state legislative seats, governorships and the presidency.
Democratic U.S. Senate seats fell from 55 to 46. Their share of the House plummeted from 256 seats to 194. Republicans still control both chambers going into the next session.
Democratic governerships also became a rarity during this eight-year period, slipping from 28 to 16.
The Obama years, which saw the rise of the Tea Party as well as a new movement form around Trump that is still being defined, coincided with a loss of 958 state legislative seats for Democrats.
Not surprisingly, Obama and Holder plan to attack their redistricting efforts by alleging racism as the primary motivator of current district maps.
But Democrats now see cause for optimism, in part because of several recent legal victories. In May the Supreme Court struck down two North Carolina congressional districts as unconstitutional, finding that lawmakers used race as the dominant factor when crafting their lines. The court has made similar rulings regarding Alabama and Virginia, and has agreed to take up a case regarding gerrymandering in the coming year.
In 2011, when state legislators and governors were drawing districts in many states, Republicans have 22 states in which they held the governor’s mansion and both legislative chambers, while Democrats controlled 11. The situation has grown even bleaker for Democrats, since they have just six such trifectas now to the GOP’s 25.
“Restoring fairness to our democracy by advocating for fairer, more inclusive district maps around the country is a priority for President Obama,” Lewis said.
One senior Obama adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly, said the former president will be “supporting efforts that tackle the inequities of our current political system,” although he would only weigh in publicly on political questions sparingly.
Of course, we're certain that district maps in California and New York have been drawn in a completely 'fair' manner and will not draw any criticism in Obama's speech.