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Obama Says Gerrymandering Is Killing The Legislative Process; Praises CA Redistricting Reform

by Caitlin Hurkes, published

U.S. President Barack Obama condemned gerrymandering for producing polarization in Congress. In Monday's NPR interview, Obama explained "there are real problems with how we are electing our representatives."

"[P]olitical gerrymandering has resulted in a situation in which - with 80 percent Democratic districts or 80 percent Republican districts, and no competition, that leads to more and more polarization in Congress. It gets harder and harder to get things done," the president told NPR.

NPR's Steve Inskeep inquired about Obama's executive actions on the environment and immigration and why the president felt they were necessary. As a constitutional scholar, Obama explained the electoral process currently leads to government gridlock.

Obama also criticized the corrupting influence of money in politics and the Senate filibuster. He argued against the influence of super PACs, which allow billionaires the ability "to dictate who can compete or not compete." Also, he explained how the Senate filibuster makes it difficult to govern at a time of high polarization.

Even with the political problems facing the United States, Obama remains optimistic about the future of democracy in America. Just because political polarization has been the trend over the past few presidents, doesn't mean we can't reverse it, he told Inskeep. Obama cited California's move to a nonpartisan process for determining congressional districts as one example of modest changes that will lead to greater government accountability over time.

"I do think that, with some modest changes, you know, some of which could be done even at the state level — for example, California moved to a non-, nonpartisan process for determining Congressional districts — that you can encourage a little more thoughtfulness, a little bit more interest in, you know, appealing to the, the basic common sense and goodness and decency of the American people, rather than just an — a narrow sliver of your base." - U.S. President Barack Obama

A majority of the interview discussed the Iran nuclear deal and a small portion discussed race relations and immigration.

Watch the full interview and read the full transcript here.

Photo Source: NPR

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