- Originally posted on May 12, 2019
I don’t watch many documentaries, but I felt that I should make an exception for ‘Knock Down The House’, a political background to the campaigns of four women across the USA, trying to break into the system in order to change it throughout the primaries of the 2018 Midterm elections.
I would be lying if I hadn’t been inspired to watch it because of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Even from across the pond in the UK, AOC has made an impact on the way I see politics. She taps into a mood of discontent with the elites and the establishment which so easily and dangerously can turn into far-right nationalism, extremism and hate. She is a reminder that good truly can win out, and it can be working class, female, Latina, or whoever you are. And anyone who wonders about the impact of any ‘outsiders’ like AOC once they get into politics should check out her takedown of campaign finance rules, which is a refreshing five minutes of, finally, a politician saying what we have wanted them to say for years.
I digress. Or do I? For the passions of the women portrayed here isn’t just to speak out about the problems which face their communities and the wider world today, it is to smash the already broken system and change it so that it works for everyone, not just the corporate elites. AOC is just one shining example of how politicians COULD make an impact if they cared about highlighting crucial social issues as opposed to utilising empty rhetoric to try and con votes from those who truly do and sitting and taking the status quo, no matter how much it effects normal people, all because it helps their own cause to win re-election and make themselves even more money. This isn’t restricted to just America or the UK. People everywhere can make a difference. And ‘Knock Down The House’ helps show the human side to those who took a risk to try and do what is right.
It shows the organisation ‘Brand New Congress’ and their efforts to help these candidates who truly want to make a difference. They don’t care if you are Democrat or Republican (although it should be noted that the four candidates here tried to break into the Democrat primaries), they just seek the drive and hunger to change things. And then it shows four women in particular.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Everyone in politics knows who she is. And, even though I knew that she obviously won her primary against Joe Crowley, before the full election, the moment where she discovers that she’s won is just as dramatic and moving as any shocking plot twist in a movie. She talks about her life as a waitress and how it helped her gain the skills, and, eventually, the confidence to run for Congress. It also highlights the prejudice which women and minorities often face, not only when running for office, but in everyday life. Even at a Pride event in New York, when her rival and incumbent Crowley is approached by a supporter, the supporter refers to Cortez as “that stupid woman”, and Crowley’s first reaction is to laugh.
Amy Vilela, running against Steven Horsford in Nevada. While she turned down an executive-level job and even sold her house to help run for office, Horsford’s last work was for a lobbying firm and he was receiving funding from Tropicana and even the aforementioned Crowley: Vilela, in contrast refused any super PAC donations. She was running for a tragic reason: her daugher died in 2015 after being refused urgent medical care because she could not provide evidence of healthcare insurance. 30,000 people across America die every year because they don’t possess insurance, which is often extortionate. Healthcare is a human right: and that is why she is ran for office.
There is also Paula Jean Swerengin, who ran against Joe Manchin, in West Virginia taking on big industry, who pollute the air and water with toxins, causing multiple members of her own community to get cancer. This coincides with the destruction of mountains. And last but not least Cori Bush, who lives six minutes away from Ferguson, the scene of rioting in 2014 about police racism and brutality. Yet, despite having a person of colour as their member of Congress, he has been ineffective in trying to deal with the situation and the cause of this violence.
This is an inspirational documentary, and I would recommend it for anyone who believes that their voice isn’t heard or counts. (Somewhat ironically) It is on Netflix, so even if you don’t have an account, take advantage of the free trial or even use someone else’s. It is a reminder of why so many of us protest and speak out against the cruel injustices of our world. While you may not have heard of all the names featured here, they are the leaders of our future. You could well hear from them again very soon. And to quote Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: it takes a hundred of us, for one of us to get through.