Meet the daring women behind 2018’s Blue Wave
The Santa Clara
May 9, 2019
“Knock Down the House” is a refreshing step away from the traditional political banter commonly seen on popular media outlets like CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. Its authenticity and lack of scripted dialogue humanizes women who seek political office while allowing for a degree of transparency rarely seen in politics.
This film, which was recently purchased by Netflix for a whopping $10 million, followed the journeys of four women—Paula Jean Swearengin, Cori Bush, Amy Vilela and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—as they sought to oust and replace longtime incumbent male Democrats in the 2018 Congressional elections. Of these four women, only Ocasio-Cortez was elected to Congress.
In 2018, more women—especially women of color—were elected to U.S. Congress than ever before. According to the Pew Research Center, women now make up 24 percent of individuals in Congress. Though this percentage is relatively small, it is larger than ever before and hopefully will only continue to grow.
From the roundtable discussions of small, grassroots-style meetings to addressing the role major corporations play in politics, “Knock Down the House” offers a realistic portrayal of American politics. The film addresses the gap between leaders in Congress and their constituents and seeks to give a voice to working class individuals. It also acknowledges the scrutiny women encounter when they run for public office.
The storyline is reminiscent of past feminist movements. In her novel “The World Split Open,” Ruth Rosen emphasizes a phrase created by feminist activist Carol Hanisch: “The personal is political.”
As part of their journey, each of these women touch upon deeply personal issues. Bush is a resident of Ferguson, MO. Cancer swept through Swearengin’s state of West Virginia, which she calls one of the “sickest states in the nation.” Vilela’s daughter, who was uninsured, died of a pulmonary embolism. And Ocasio-Cortez, like many others, fought to make ends meet for her family. In this way “Knock Down the House” tackles tough issues that pertain to health insurance, police brutality, poverty in the Appalachian Mountain region and the struggle to earn a living wage.
In a review published in The Atlantic, author Megan Garber also brings attention to the amount of emotion shown in the film. Garber mentions two scenes in particular where Ocasio-Cortez and Vilela are seen crying after their respective races. Their natural displays of emotion speak to their humanity and sincerity.
To young viewers across the United States, it is a painful reminder that no matter how much heart, soul and hard work you dedicate to a political campaign, there is no guarantee you will win. The words of Ocasio-Cortez ring hauntingly true.
“It’s just the reality that in order for one of us to make it through, 100 of us have to try,” she said.
While this may seem cynical, it is simply matter-of-fact, and the lesson of resilience is applicable to all individuals, regardless of gender.
Despite the hardships these women face, there are moments in the film that make you want to run for office yourself. From watching Ocasio-Cortez handle a cocktail shaker to the disbelief on her face when she wins, you gradually understand more and more why some are willing to risk it all for a taste of this exhilarating experience aimed at helping others.
While this film is enjoyable and informative, it focuses solely on Democratic candidates, failing to account for the journeys of women from the other side of the political scale.
Given the polarization of American politics, it would have been educational to include the stories of women from other political parties.
Even so, “Knock Down the House” allows us to appreciate those who have fought before us while also preparing women for what lies ahead. The film tells it how it is. No more, no less.
Contact Celia Martinez at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.