Barack Obama took a step back from the political spotlight after President Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017, but fans of the former president can now rejoice — Obama is returning to politics, and soon.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Feb. 28, former Attorney General Eric Holder said Barack Obama is getting closer to making his public return to politics. “It’s coming. He’s coming,” Holder said. “And he’s ready to roll.”
Obama is planning to take a more visible role in the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a Democratic organization that aims to help fight gerrymandering. The NDRC plans to direct resources to reshape a gerrymandered map that heavily favors Republican lawmakers.
Obama’s desire to address the problem of gerrymandering is nothing new. In a 2015 interview with NPR, Obama said, “there are real problems with how we are electing our representatives.” He then explained that he believes political gerrymandering results in more polarization in Washington, which inhibits the ability to affect change because it creates animosity.
As Politico writes so astutely, “The hope is that this would put Democrats in a stronger position in state houses, but also in the U.S. House of Representatives, if districts are drawn that more accurately represent the distribution of the popular vote, citing statistics that showed Republicans winning 49 percent of the vote in those elections but getting 55 percent of the seats in the 2016 elections.”
Obama and Holder first announced that they would focus on gerrymandering back in October 2016. The NDRC was developed in close consultation with the Obama White House, when it was still in power but reeling from the turmoil of the 2016 campaign. The group did not manage to be heavily involved in last year’s election, but has been aggressively pitching donors and putting together its first plan of action for the upcoming Virginia and New Jersey state elections. The NDRC has also started to look think forward to the 2018 gubernatorial, state legislative and House races.
Gerrymandering is often considered one of the biggest obstacles to American democracy. Both Republicans and Democrats have used gerrymandering to strengthen their influence in states where they have long maintained majority rule.