WASHINGTON – Former Attorney General Eric Holder accused the Republican Party of using “gerrymandering” in the redistricting process as a political “weapon” and labeled it a “rigged system.”
He also said the majority of voters in America side with Democrats “issue by issue.” Holder mentioned that Obama has made a strong redistricting strategy for Democrats “a priority” of his post-presidency.
Holder, who served in the Obama administration, was referring to President-elect Trump calling the electoral system “rigged” during his campaign against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
“We heard a lot this last election about a rigged system. Well, I want to say that the biggest rigged system in America is gerrymandering – a system where the lines are drawn not to represent American communities but to benefit politicians, a system where politicians pick their voters and not where American citizens chose their representatives consistent with our founding ideals,” he said during a discussion at the Center for American Progress on Thursday.
Holder said fixing the redistricting problems would involve focusing on “the larger effort to win back governance” and “our democracy.”
“In most states, maps are drawn by the legislature with veto power in the hands of the governor, and those who control state governments draw the lines that define Congress for the next decade,” he said.
Holder pointed out that Republicans controlled the governorship and state houses and senates in 20 states in 2011 while Democrats controlled 11 state governments. After the 2016 election, Republicans control 25 state governments and Democrats have the majority in six.
“Gerrymandering by Republicans means that fair and free access to the franchised is under siege. It is clear when it comes to the right to the vote we live in a time of great and abiding uncertainty, and of pronounced and justifiable fear,” he said.
Holder explained that protecting the right to vote led to the launch of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, an organization composed of Democratic leaders working on a “comprehensive” state-by-state “redistricting strategy” for 2021. Holder serves as the chair of the group and said President Obama is committed to working with him after he leaves office.
“Our board includes leaders from Democratic Governors Association, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and the House Majority PAC, and specifically will be working with President Obama, who has made the NDRC a priority for his post-presidency,” he said.
Holder alleged that the Republican Party uses gerrymandering because it has “discovered” that its governing philosophy is not a winning one. He argued that the GOP supports voter ID laws to suppress the Democratic vote.
“And so because they can’t win the game, they’ve decided to change the rules,” he said.
Holder recommended the Democratic Party go back to the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s or ’60s, when it focused more on its redistricting strategy than presidential elections.
“I think after that we started to lose track as the Republicans had kind of a string of presidential candidates we focused on winning the presidency, and so it’s time to get back to doing that which Democrats are best at,” he said.
“The people in this country, if you go issue by issue – don’t say it’s a Democratic or Republican issue, just go issue by issue – people tend to say that they are on this side of an issue and they skew Democratic, and so we have to make sure that at all electoral levels we are making opportunities for people to express those views by voting for Democratic candidates,” he added.
During the event, a CNN reporter started to ask a Holder a question and he shot back, “You’re fake news. Next question.” The reporter was eventually able to ask the question.
Holder was imitating President-elect Donald Trump, who refused to answer CNN’s question at his news conference on Wednesday. CNN had reported that Trump received information in his classified intelligence briefing about a potential Russian campaign to use compromising information against him; Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Vice President Joe Biden confirmed after Trump’s fake-news allegation that the president-elect was briefed about the information.