IOWA CITY— We can thank Move to Amend for the sentences “corporations are not people,” and “money is not free speech.” Now what?
David Cobb, one of the founders of the organization, didn’t have an answer at the Iowa City Public Library on April 17. He did say if we filled out a sheet the national organization will plug us in. Plus us into what?
“Our essence was the realization that even people who engage in civic engagement on issues, and there has been just amazing work that’s done,” he said. “But we haven’t, in my lifetime and maybe in a generation, seen the kind of social movements that are the earmarks of this country. The social movement that culminated in the American Revolution, actually the creation of this country, was in fact a social movement. So too was the abolitionist movement, and the women’s suffrage movement, and the trade union movement, and the civil rights movement.”
“You see there is something different between movement and issue organizing or issue activism,” Cobb concluded.
The brochure Cobb distributed on Thursday had great organizing information, with solid ideas: form a study group; organize a workshop or street theater event and invite a speaker from their organization; pass out brochures at public events; write a letter to the editor or op-ed in your local newspaper; propose a local resolution or ordinance; contact elected officials and ask them to take a public stand; or sign a petition. Here’s the rub, organizing does not a movement make.
Blog for Iowa has been writing about Citizens United, which led to creation of Move to Amend, for years. Readers are familiar with the idea of amending the Constitution to say 1). Only natural persons have Constitutional rights and 2). Money is not free speech. After almost four years of being in Iowa, Move to Amend has picked some low hanging fruit: resolutions passed by a handful of governing bodies, some organizing, and a couple of Democratic sponsors for legislation. However, the bicameral Iowa legislature is no closer to acting on amending the Constitution than they were before the Citizens United decision was handed down.
What Move to Amend needs is to become a movement, something Cobb knew this afternoon. It is a long distance from that.
It is ironic that an organization born out of a think tank and turned into a 501 (c) 3 is what Cobb’s narrative implied is not needed. If Iowans want to amend the constitution regarding corporate personhood and money as free speech, then we better get moving.
Move to Amend is looking at a 30 year process to amend the Constitution, according to Cobb. The truth is we can’t wait.