The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Q&A with David Cobb, Spokesperson for Move to Amend

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David Cobb, the National Projects Director of Democracy Unlimited, has spearheaded a movement against corporate polluters in order to affect necessary systemic social change. A member of the board of directors of Move to Amend, trial lawyer and former presidential candidate for the Green Party, David Cobb has devoted himself to full time political activism. Since then, he has sued corporate polluters, lobbied elected officials and has been arrested for non-violent civil disobedience. He encourages American citizens to join together to prevent corporate personhood and the social injustices associated with it.

Before presenting his talk, “Creating Democracy and Challenging Corporate Rule,” Courtney Wong ’15 sat down with David Cobb for a brief interview.

Courtney Wong (CW): What inspired you to become interested in political activism?

David Cobb (DC): It wasn’t until I got to university that I began to see that how I was told this country operated was a myth. This country is fundamentally sexist, racist and classist. I was involved with the anti-apartheid movement at the University of Houston and the first time that I met an activist, I got into a principal political argument with him. I couldn’t believe what he was telling me, but he was right. I was not only wrong, but I was also convinced in my ignorant position. 

We should always be willing to question our fundamental assumptions on the way we operate. I got my start in political activism as a student activist because I realized that our principles of equality were not actually being enacted. Any system – social, political, economic – that is premised on exploitation and oppression is fundamentally wrong, and we ought to be able to build institutions and movements together without them.

CW: Do you foresee an idealized future in which we can get rid of the institutions that exploit and oppress certain groups of people? 

DC: Yes, absolutely.

CW: And how do you think we can accomplish that?

DC: Before you can accomplish a goal, you need to set the goal. Move to Amend has set up the foundation for a multi-racial, multi-ethnic democracy movement in this country. Our national leadership team has offices all across America and you’re looking at the only white man on it.

We then must be serious to recognize that it’s not just about politics and elections. Our institutions are almost all premised and operating on some principle of oppression or exploitation. We must question the operation of these institutions and commit ourselves to an anti-oppression and pro-justice perspective.

We also must learn how to share power, decision-making and space. We need to both step up and step back. If you by nature or culture have been taught to remain quiet, you should step up and share your voice and similarly, if you have been taught to step up and occupy more space, you should step back so we can all share the political space.

CW: So do we need a cultural shift in society?

DC: Move to Amend is a campaign around politics and economics, but we also recognize that law follows culture. We are premised upon a core principle of ethics and morality. We should be engaged in loving, compassion and sharing. I’m not embarrassed to talk about the need for more love and sharing in the political context.

We need to move towards the direction of love and compassion because we are now living in an age of crisis. The economic crisis, the ecological crisis and the social justice crisis are not coming. They’re here and are only going to get worse.

Dartmouth students, regardless of their race, gender and socioeconomic class, are experiencing a privilege of having an education at one of the finest institutions on the planet. So my loving challenge to Dartmouth students is to examine that privilege and use it judiciously, and use it to create a better world.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences