Barack Obama stars in a new video about protecting our democracy. It's a must-watch.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

He's putting his weight behind an issue that's vital to election outcomes but doesn't often get a lot of attention.

A recently released three-minute political video starred a very familiar political face: Barack Obama. The video was created by the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), a group run by former Attorney General Eric Holder, whose mission is to prevent partisan gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering, simply put, is the practice of a state government redrawing its congressional district maps to unfairly favor one party in elections. For example, Texas Republicans have been charged with doing just that, likely preventing minorities and Democrats from winning more elections.


In the video, Obama gave a shoutout to the resistance movement that has gained momentum since the 2016 election, saying, "It's been inspiring to see growing numbers of people jumping in and embracing that role, organizing, to registering new voters, to running for office for the first time."

But running for office won’t matter if the lines are already drawn in favor of one side.

Unfair redistricting is a threat to democracy itself.

In typical Obama style, he plainly explained how gerrymandering works. "That's why your district might be shaped like a corkscrew," he said, "but it's also how a party gains more seats while getting fewer votes. Which isn't fair."

Obama then laid out the goals of the NDRC:

  • Supporting reforms to make redistricting less partisan.
  • Electing candidates who support redistricting reform.
  • Bringing legal challenges where partisan redistricting has taken place.

It may not sound like the most exciting issue, but when preparing to leave office in 2016, Obama said it would be his main focus — and he's stepping up to honor that commitment.

Obama is throwing his full support behind an issue that could help change the face of democracy for years to come.

As he pointed out in the video, the states with upcoming redistricting deadlines will be decided in elections this year.

While he did get political, noting that Republicans are using redistricting to support the gun lobby, tax cuts for the wealthy, and opponents of climate change reform, he got back to the heart of the matter: "Regardless of our party affiliations, it's not good for democracy."

For the past 18 months, the Obamas have surfaced to remind us how we can be our best American selves. Their voices and presence are inspiring but can feel painfully nostalgic.

At the end of the day, Obama became president because he wanted to serve his country and he values our democracy. Now, he's worried about the integrity of our future elections — and it's an issue we all should care deeply about.

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Public Domain

A very simple thing happened earlier this week. Dr. Seuss Enterprises—the company that runs the Dr. Seuss estate and holds the legal rights to his works—announced it will no longer publish six Dr. Seuss children's books because they contain depictions of people that are "hurtful and wrong" (their words). The titles that will no longer be published are And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot's Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat's Quizzer.

This simple action prompted a great deal of debate, along with a great deal of disinformation, as people reacted to the story. (Or in many cases, just the headline. It's a thing.)

My article about the announcement (which contains examples of the problematic content that prompted the announcement) led to nearly 3,000 comments on Upworthy's Facebook page. Since many similar comments were made repeatedly, I wanted to address the most common sentiments and questions:

How do we learn from history if we keep erasing it?

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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

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When an earthquake and subsequent tsunami caused a nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011 most people who lived in the area fled. Some left without their pets, who then had to fend for themselves in a radioactive nuclear zone.

Sakae Kato stayed behind to rescue the cats abandoned by his neighbors and has spent the last decade taking care of them. He has converted his home, which is in a contaminated quarantine area, to a shelter for 41 cats, whom he refers to as "kids." He has buried 23 other cats in his garden over the past 10 years.

The government has asked the 57-year-old to evacuate the area many times, but he says he figured he was going to die anyway. "And if I had to die, I decided that I would like to die with these guys," he said.

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