I watched an amazing documentary on Netflix yesterday, “Knock down the House.”
The movie follows four candidates, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearingen, during the 2018 elections who are attempting to win Democratic primaries against incumbent candidates.
As you likely know, *SPOILER ALERT* AOC was the only one to emerge successfully. Despite the huge splash she has made since winning her seat, a lot of cynicism has sprung up around her and progressives like her who have been attempting to challenge the status quo in the Democratic Party and the primary losses by the other women featured in this movie have been highlighted to attempt to make the point that no great movement is afoot.
Well, that is what they want you to think. Watch this movie and try to leave with an ounce of cynicism about the motives of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
At one point, one of the women (I cannot remember which one, but I wrote down the quote!) expressly acknowledges her fear of this possibility, stating: “I get scared of the cynicism that could result from people really believing in something and it not working out.” However, as is made clear throughout the film, a movement is much bigger than any one participant in the movement and this movement is not about one “ordinary” 28-year-old from the Bronx being elected to Congress, but about “ordinary” people being willing to stand up for the government that they want, even if the odds against them are stacked.
I wrote down two other quotes from the movie that impacted me. The first I can actually attribute! Reverend Darryl Gray, a veteran of the civil rights movement, was speaking to a group of organizers early in the film and quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stating: “the time is always right to do right.” What a simple but inspiring message. The government belongs to us, but only if we are willing to take ownership in an active way. What this means is challenging party machines and bureaucracy that want us to believe that only a certain kind of person can run for national office. Which brings me to the second quote, which I did not attribute when I wrote down, but I think captures the real essence of the movie: “we’d be fools to think the same people who got us into this mess are going to get us out of it.”
If you do not like the way your government operates, change is possible, but you must be the change. You cannot give in to cynicism or imagine that the mountain is too high. You have to start somewhere and if you want a few very inspirational role models, I urge you to check this movie out.
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