KNOCK THE HOUSE DOWN
‘For every 10 rejections you get one acceptance and that is how you win.’
Spoken by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the feature itself, this line accurately summarizes the whole documentary. Four women from the working class, a grassroots campaign movement and one result of that shook America, knock the house down reminds the citizens of the importance of making one’s voice heard.
After the 2016 presidential elections, Lears reached out to National grassroots groups Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress who were recruiting ‘Non-career politicians’, democrat or republican, to run in opposition to incumbent politicians. The idea behind it is to remove the corrupting influence of money in politics and to elect working people so that they can have representation in the congress. To give people back their power and really keep it. During the span of the documentary we are introduced to a bartender from the Bronx, a grieving mother from Nevada, a coal miner’s daughter from West Virginia and a Nurse from Missouri who represented different parts of the country.
“If another country come in here, blew up our mountain and poisoned our water, we would go to war. But industry can.” Paula Jean Swearengin, running for senate in West Virginia, seemed largely fed up with the democrats representing her district. Pointing at houses where she knew people who suffered from cancer showed the severity of the condition of Coal city of West Virginia.
Cori Bush, a trained nurse, ran for congress in Missouri’s First District. Looking for real change she wanted to serve the people of her district where an unarmed Black teenager was killed by police officers in 2014.
The one that seemed the most personally invested was Amy Vilela who ran in Nevada for Medicare for all. Having lost a daughter because she didn’t have the right insurance, her raw candour touches the hearts of the people.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a scene from the documentary “Knock Down the House.” Credit: Netflix
The one that steals the spotlight is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who stood opposite Joseph Crowley in the 14th district of New York. Crowley hadn’t been challenged for 14 years and Cortez debated him successfully but was also able to unmask the fact that he didn’t even live in the district he represented. From the start she has an air of confidence and her journey till the victory is exhilarating to watch.
Lear’s camera was able to ideally document the whole campaign due to the early access to the candidates. The scenes are based in crowded conference rooms, streets and cramped up rooms where each candidate came up with strategies and ideas. We see them all in action with their visions clear as day, canvassing the areas, collecting signatures to get on the ballot and having intimate conversations with the citizens they would be representing. She exhibited the journey of four women who were mad enough to do something about it.
This piece is written by Riya Bishnoi