Socialist Worker

Painting the Democrats as progressive

by Gabby Thorpe
Issue No. 2654

Cori Bush is one of the Democratic politicians featured

Cori Bush is one of the Democratic politicians featured


Knock Down The House tells the story of four women standing in the 2018 US mid-term elections.

It focuses largely on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who stunned America with a 57 percent win over establishment Democrat Joe Crowley in June 2018 in an internal party election.

All four of the women in the film come from working class backgrounds, and their experiences illuminate some of the horrors of American capitalism.

Prohibited

Amy Vilela of Nevada lost her daughter due to laws prohibiting her from staying on her parents’ health insurance policy after reaching 21.

Paula Jean Swearengin ran in West Virginia hoping to change the lives of residents in the coal mining village where she was raised.

The class background of these candidates, combined with prevailing attitudes towards women in politics, makes Knock Down The House an important viewing experience.

The film is also part of the Democrats’ strategy to paint the party as progressive policies.

Meanwhile the party remains a party of US capitalism, commited to racist division and attacking working class people.

The film misses a few tricks. Ocasio-Cortez is immensely watchable, but she did not win on her own.

A broader focus on the teams behind these candidates, and the social movements that spurred them on, would have added more depth. Knock Down The House talks up grassroots movements. However, most of the film is spent focusing on Ocasio-Cortez.

Little screen time is given to other candidates. Although Cortez was the only winner, as much can be learnt from losses as victories.

Sadly, the least screen time was given to the African-American candidate Cori Bush, who ran in Missouri.

This emphasis takes away from the experiences of women living in more conservative parts of the US.

Knock Down The House is an uplifting film despite the focus on electoral politics and the Democratic Party.


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