POLITICS

Barack Obama Throws All His Weight Behind 'Issue Of Singular Importance'

The former president's activist group Organizing for Action will be folded into a fight to end gerrymandering.

Former President Barack Obama has taken to heart one cause above others since leaving the White House: the fight to end gerrymandering

On Thursday he announced that the progressive Organizing for Action group, which formed out of the pieces of Obama’s re-election campaign, would be folded into the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

In a Medium post, Obama called gerrymandered maps “undemocratic” and “unrepresentative,” saying they have “too often stood in the way of change.”

While OFA had previously partnered with the NDRC, the former will now cease to exist, according to The Atlantic. Its resources will be funneled to help the redistricting group fulfill its mission to fairly redraw state maps where district boundaries have been manipulated to make Democrat wins more difficult.

The merger will create a “joint force that is focused on this issue of singular importance,” Obama said in a Thursday evening phone call, per The Atlantic. 

Gerrymandering reform has become a major focus for the former president in the Trump era. Obama and other Democratic leaders launched the NDRC in October 2016, and it is currently chaired by former Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder. 

A message to OFA supporters this week just before the announcement cited November’s midterm election results in North Carolina as evidence of a broken system. Despite a 50 percent voter turnout in the swing state, Democrats have won just three out of 13 congressional seats, the message pointed out. The state has one of the nation’s more extremely gerrymandered maps.

In a phone call to supporters, Obama framed the reform effort as a shield for democracy. 

“People want commonsense gun-safety laws; Congress ignores it. People want compressive immigration reform [sic]; Congress ignores it,” Obama said, per The Atlantic.

He continued: “The single most important thing that could be done at the grassroots level over the next few years is to make sure the rules of the road are fair. If we do that, I think we’ll do the right thing.”

Obama has largely stayed out of the political fray since President Donald Trump entered the White House in order to avoid handing the new president fuel to attack Democrats. He made an exception to push Democratic candidates in the recent midterm elections, and is expected to keep his work behind-the-scenes until the 2020 races heat up.

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