Netflix doc highlights women in government

In the United States, we’re so used to our government looking like one type of person that we don’t even question it. A white male, usually a lawyer, wearing a suit and a smile: this is our picture of a politician. 

When it comes out that the same congressman who killed a bill that would tax carbon emissions is accepting money from the companies that make them, we aren’t shocked or surprised or even offended. This is the norm in our country.

Netflix’s “Take Down the House” opens citing the record numbers of women, people of color and non-career politicians who ran for office in 2018. It introduces the viewer to four Democratic congressional candidates: Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, Paula Jean Swearengin and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

This film follows them on their campaign trails, and one thing quickly becomes apparent: these candidates are not the norm.

They’re not fighting Republicans; they’re fighting the Democratic establishment that has become too complacent. Democrats have lost over 900 seats across the nation since 2008, and this new wave of candidates doesn’t intend to sit back and relax while their party’s leaders drive that number into four digits.

These campaigns are nothing like the expensive, gaudy ones run by their opponents. In the film, Ocasio-Cortez points to various features of a campaign ad put out by her opponent, Joe Crowley. She points out his multiple mentions of Trump, who he promises to fight, and his lack of commitments to his district. She points out that his campaign is being run by a veritable political machine.

Later, she states, “We meet a machine with a movement.” Her opponent is the fourth most powerful Democrat in the country, and he’s run uncontested for 14 years in his district. He’s everything you’d expect a politician to look like, and she’s a bartender.

Every article that covered her campaign was written like she’d already lost. In a country more stable and less angry, she would have. Before a reality TV president shook the states to their core, none of these candidates would have made it on the ballot.

This film covers these candidates going door to door, talking to American citizens and listening to the concerns of the people they want to represent. It shows a new type of congressperson, one we desperately need now.

Ocasio-Cortez once said, “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office.” But she did. And she won.

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