Win or lose, last night was a great night for Bernie Sanders and his supporters.
Bernie pointed out in his speech last night that the people of Iowa sent a profound message to the rest of the country by turning out in droves to support Bernie’s vision for a “political revolution.”
He’s right: The people of Iowa have sent a profound message to the political and media establishment in this country.
So how did Bernie Sanders go from polling at around 5 percent in Iowa when he announced his candidacy to only losing because of a series of coin tosses? It’s because people are actually able to hear his message – whether the establishment wants them to or not. It’s because he talks about the issues that impact the people who used to make up the middle class in this country. And because it resonates with people who have never participated in an election – people who look at our bought-off politicians and have been disgusted with politics in the US.
The truth is, Bernie Sanders wouldn’t be neck and neck with Hillary Clinton right now if people were forced to depend on the major corporate news networks. They wouldn’t even know who he is except for the fact that he’s over 70 years old and a self-described “democratic socialist.”
But thanks to the internet and social media, it’s probably the first US election ever that voters can completely go around the corporate media to learn about the issues that they care about and where the candidates stand on them.
Bernie Sanders received less than 10 minutes of coverage between CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News and ABC World News, combined up until December. And it hasn’t been just a blackout on Bernie; it’s a blackout on the issues that American voters care about.
The corporate media refuse to talk about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. They refuse to talk about Citizens United or the corrupting influence of money in politics. They refuse to talk about the fact that the Koch brothers’ network of political operatives is bigger than the entire Republican party – or that they’ll spend millions this year on political ads for the corporate media to air and thus profit from. And they refuse to talk about net neutrality or any of the attempts by the major internet providers and media conglomerates to force legislation to give them monopolistic control over the internet.
Fortunately – and largely because net neutrality is still in place – people in this country have more access to the internet than ever, and they can still learn about these issues on their own. Thanks to “new media” outlets that stand outside the corporate status quo – people can find out about issues that the corporate media simply refuses to talk about.
Thanks to outlets like Truthout, The Intercept, Vice Media, Salon, AlterNet, Free Speech TV and RTTV – among many others – people can seek out and learn about the candidates that the corporate media deems “fringe” – like Bernie Sanders.
Internet forums and discussion boards like Reddit and Democratic Underground serve as great places for people to share news stories and political speeches that might not make it onto the 24 hour networks – and to discuss those stories and speeches.
Thanks to YouTube, we can actually look back and find videos of the candidates and what they said about particular issues in the past. We can find news reports that in the past would have been consigned to the dustbin of history, and we can leave comments and have discussions with others.
A lot of these things were around in 2008, but now more people have access to the internet than ever before and that means that more people than ever before can educate themselves about the issues that they care about. We can make our own decisions based on what we’ve read, rather than just trusting what we saw on the 6:00 news on the local Fox affiliate.
It’s not perfect. The internet is full of half-truths and outright lies. It’s full of people who just want to provoke arguments and insult people who disagree with them. But it’s also provided an outlet for new media and a platform for honest discussion, and its wrested control away from the major mainstream corporate networks and newspapers.
And just like Bernie said last night: The caucus results have sent a profound message to the corporate media.
It’s not just that the political establishment and media establishment were wrong about Bernie’s viability as a candidate – it’s that the establishment media isn’t in the driver’s seat of US politics anymore, and that’s a really good thing for our democracy.