How often does the corporate media cover skyrocketing inequality, crippling poverty, and the pernicious influence of corporate cash on the American political system?
"We need to raise political consciousness in America and help us move forward with a progressive agenda that meets the needs of our working families."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders"Almost never," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) argues in an op-ed for the Guardian published on Friday, just days ahead of his planned inequality town hall that will be streamed online Monday.
The very fact that Sanders—along with his fellow Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and filmmaker Michael Moore—is hosting the town hall in partnership with organizations like NowThis and The Young Turks rather than one of America's major television networks is itself a testament to the Vermont senator's contention that "corporate media has failed to let the American people fully understand the economic forces shaping their lives."
But while "the corporate media ignores the rise of oligarchy," Sanders insists that "the rest of us" have a responsibility to keep these issues at the center of American political discourse.
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"We need to ask the hard questions that the corporate media fails to ask: who owns America, and who has the political power? Why, in the richest country in the history of the world are so many Americans living in poverty? What are the forces that have caused the American middle class, once the envy of the world, to decline precipitously?" Sanders writes. "We need to hear from struggling Americans whose stories are rarely told in newspapers or television."
Just years ago, in-depth discussions of inequality and its corrosive effects on the democratic process were confined to the political fringes.
But the Occupy Wall Street Movement and Sanders's 2016 presidential campaign forced a discussion of inequality onto the national stage, and helped reveal that a massive swath of the U.S. is eager to push back against the outsize influence of the Koch Brothers, big banks, and fossil fuel companies on policy decisions that impact the lives of millions of Americans.
In his Guardian op-ed, Sanders argues that the only way to combat the systemic inequities that have resulted in the largest income disparities since the 1920s is to continue raising "political consciousness," without the help of corporate media outlets that fail to give these crises the attention they deserve.
"The rapid rise of oligarchy and wealth and income inequality is the great moral, economic, and political issue of our time," Sanders concludes. "We need to raise political consciousness in America and help us move forward with a progressive agenda that meets the needs of our working families. It's up to us all to join the conversation—it's just the beginning."