Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Knock Down the House

 It was on my list that Netflix offers for several months.  In a mood of indecision I decided to actually watch.  It may be too late to promote it as time has moved on, but it is very educational and inspiring.

 As for many documentaries they had a limited budget.  As some critics pointed out it consisted largely of self conscious interviews.  Another critic wishes they had added Ihan Omar to the mix, but that points out the unfair expectations.  The film makers could have no idea who might win. Who might put on a good "show"?  We see four candidates trying to beat the establishment and were fortunate that one of them was victorious.  The one winner has come on to be a major political "star" who is doing good things.

A good hunk of American voters (and outsiders in Canada) feel the Republicans are all evil and leading America in the wrong direction.  The problem is deeper.  The real problem is the role of money with all prospective politicians needing large amounts of money that comes with strings.  The Republicans might have the inside track on the wealthy, but the Democrats are able to attract big donors, but with obligations that run against voters.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2016/07/dark-money-by-jane-mayer.html

The producers decided to concentrate on a grassroots effort to boost four women with a progressive agenda up against established moderate Democrats.   They all had a good story to tell and a formidable opposition.

Paula Jean Swearengin was up against Joe Manchin.  We now know Joe has a strong corporate donor base that actually works against his constituents.  As a coal miner's daughter Paula Jean was very concerned about Manchin not really helping the actual coal miners and their families that had high rates of cancer deaths.  We hear from Joe with condescending words that on the surface may sound gracious.

Amy Vilela was in Nevada and was upset about the health care system that had led to her young daughter's  death.  I think it was her who noted that Joe Crowley (see below) had donated to her Nevada opponent and we learned that her primary was before Alexandria's so that Crowley wanted to assure that an upset did not occur before he had to face another upstart. 

Cori Bush was a nurse in Missouri and had been jolted by the police shooting of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson.  She felt  things would not change and decided to tackle the incumbent whose family had held the seat for over a generation.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took on Joe Crowley who had been generating $3 million from corporate sponsors.  He didn't even show up for a debate, sending a substitute.   Still it seemed most people were intending to vote for him again.

Because as we all know AOC won we see more of her campaign efforts.   She did not think of running, but a grassroots organization encouraged her brother to nominate her.  After interviews she was accepted as a candidate for the upcoming primary.  To be official they needed 1,200 signatures, but knowing the Crowley campaign team would scrutinize for discrepancies they aimed for 10,000.  Door knocking was a new experience for Alexandria.  She encountered many who automatically intended to vote for her more experienced opponent, apathetic voters and others not even willing to talk.  She had her first debate where she got to challenge her opponent who didn't show up, on a number of issues making a good impression.  Later she held a rally that drew a lot of attention and made an impression on the press.   Finally Crowley offered a public debate and we were shown lots of condescending remarks from him, but also a few zingers in reply like we have become used to from Alexandria.    Along the way we met her family and her very supportive boyfriend, Riley Roberts.  

Unfortunately her other deserving colleagues did not do as well .  Alexandria pointed out that it could well take 100 progressives so that one could break through.  We wonder why with so much public support that climate change is resisted by politicians.  We wonder why with the rest of the industrial world offering more comprehensive health care that Americans still lack care that could save literally millions of lives.

For me this movie gave insights into what prospects for those unsupported by corporations can expect.  Voters are easily manipulated.  Below are two of the people who took a chance and gave everyone great awareness.

Rachel Lears was the director, writer, cinematographer and producer.    Married to Robin Blotnick who was a writer, editor and producer.   The two received awards for "The Hand that Feeds" (2014) and "Knock the House Down."  Documentaries do not draw the audiences that blockbusters do but they help boost awareness of societal problems and even societal solutions.  Progressive politics is mocked by many, especially by those with opposing vested interests and even those sympathetic tend to express the helplessness of their case.  But they are not helpless if the rest of us can offer some encouragement.

This film was educational, but that is an ongoing process. An earlier bout of learning came when I was involved as campaign worker:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2014/04/my-short-but-educational-political.html

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