Movie Review: Knock Down the House (2019)


Title: Knock Down the House
Release Date: May 1, 2019
Director: Rachel Lears
Production Company: Jubilee Films | Atlas Films | Artemis Rising
Summary/Review:

In 2018, progressive candidates – especially people of color and women of all races – ran in great numbers for national offices.  Many of them had to face established Democratic incumbents who had grown used to not being challenged in primary elections.  This movie focus on four of them: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Amy Vilela of Nevada, Cori Bush of Missouri, and Paula Jean Swearengin of West Virginia.

Ocasio-Cortez is now the most famous of the four, and it’s interesting to see high-quality film of her early days of knocking doors and anxieties about running, long before she became the nationally-recognized AOC.  Her opponent, veteran congressional representative Joe Crowley comes off as a bigger jerk than I realized, refusing to attend an early debate, and speaking condescendingly of Ocasio-Cortez in a later debate.

I hope this isn’t consider a spoiler, but Ocasio-Cortez is the only one of the four who won her primary and general elections.  Nevertheless, the experience of the other three women in their campaigns is illuminating.  Vilela is a single mother who lost her daughter Shalynne to a treatable illness that wasn’t addressed because she didn’t have health insurance.  This makes her very impassioned for healthcare for all.  Bush is mobilized by the Ferguson movement to take on the complacent incumbent  Lacy Clay, a member of a family dynasty that has held the seat since 1969.  Swearengin comes from West Virginia’s coal country and is mobilized by the many people who’ve contracted cancer from the poisonous environment.

The movie is a very honest, emotional, and inspirational look at these candidates and their campaigns, even if most of them ended in loss.  The movie definitely documents the beginning of a movement. Swearengin is the Democratic candidate for Senate in 2020 and Bush is again challenging Lacy Clay in the Missouri 1st Congressional District primary.  Hundreds of other progressive candidates are running to against complacent Democrats and downright cruel Republicans. So get out and vote for them!

Rating: ***1/2

2020 Election Challenge


Today is the first Tuesday in May, which means that we are SIX MONTHS AWAY from the first Tuesday in November, Election Day!  On November 3, 2020, American voters will participate in one of the most important elections in the nation’s history.

At this point the Democratic Party has already decided that their candidate for this vital Presidential election will be Joe Biden.  I have my reservations about Biden, in that I think he does not have the qualities to be a good President to address the many crises our nation is facing.  But even more so, I’m terrified that his weakness leave him more vulnerable that other potential Democratic candidates to losing the election to Donald Trump!  Nevertheless, the Democrats have made their decision, and they will now have to convince voters in America’s disaffected voters that it will be worth their effort to vote for Biden.

What I want to focus on today is the other elections that will take place on November 3rd.  I often note that the election of Presidents is given inordinate attention while elections for Congress, state, and local officials are widely overlooked.  These elected officials often hold the power that influences our daily lives but it gets very little attention at election time. Consider that Trump administration would not be able to cause nearly as much damage as they have had they not been supported by a Republican majority in the Senate (and in fact, Trump’s presidency may have been ended by now without them).  Similarly, Barack Obama, who I believe tried to do the right thing most of the time, had his hands tied for most of the Presidency by Republican majorities in both house dead set on blocking his every effort.

With this in mind, I would like to get people enthusiastic about supporting  Democratic (or progressive independent) candidates for Congress, state and local elections. Here is my challenge to you:

  • find out who is running in your state for the Senate, House, Governor, and State Legislature.
  • after researching the candidates, pledge to vote for the Democratic/progressive candidate you like most and help their campaign in any way you can (donations, telling your friends & family, sharing campaign information across social media, canvassing, volunteering at the polls, etc.)
  • if there is no election for Senate and/or Governor in your state this year, chose at least one candidate from the lists below to “adopt” and support like they were your own

A good resource for learning about the candidates who are running and dates of primary elections is Ballotpedia. I’m also available to help with research if you want to leave me a comment.

Senatorial Elections

States where Republican incumbent is running for reelection:
NOTE: The incumbent Senators from these states all voted to acquit Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of congress in relation to the Ukraine scandal. All but one of these incumbent Senators (Lisa Murkowski of Alaska) voted to confirm the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh despite credible testimony of his committing sexual assault. These irresponsible, partisan-driven votes of the Republican incumbents (and many others) need to be front and center in the campaign against them.

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Georgia (special election)
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • West Virginia

States where Republican incumbent is retiring:

  • Kansas
  • Tennessee
  • Wyoming

States where Democratic incumbent is at risk of having seat flipped to Republican:

  • Alabama

Gubernatorial Elections

States with Democratic incumbent running for reelection:

  • Delaware
  • North Carolina
  • Washington

States with Republican incumbent running for reelection:

  • Indiana
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia

State with no incumbent running:

  • Montana (current Democratic governor is term-limited)
  • Utah (current Republican governor is retiring)

UPDATED (5/6/2020):  I saw this relevant information on Twitter regarding state legislatures.  If you live in these states make sure to get involved!


We have six months to carry out a comprehensive, nationwide campaign to clear out the Republican deadweight and work toward creating a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Please share this post widely so as many people as possible can get involved.

Massachusetts Primary Elections – VOTE EARLY! VOTE NOW! JUST VOTE!


Hey there fellow Bay Staters!  It’s Primary Election time in Massachusetts.  You can vote early NOW and every day until Friday, February 28.  Details for the City of Boston are below and or you can check on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts website for Early Voting opportunities in your community: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/EarlyVotingWeb/EarlyVotingSearch.aspx.

Keep in mind that Early Voting is available for all voters at specified locations  in your community that will not necessarily be your designated polling location.

If you’re not able to participate in Early Voting, or you’re a traditionalist, make your way to your local polling location to vote on Super Tuesday: March 3, 2020!

This excellent tool on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ website will help you 1) Find out where you can vote on the Primary Election Day on March 3, 2020 and 2) Show you who is on the ballots for your district.  Registered voters may chose to vote on ONE of the four party ballots: Democratic Party, Republican Party, Green-Rainbow Party, or Libertarian Party.

https://www.sec.state.ma.us/wheredoivotema/bal/MyElectionInfo.aspx

Make a plan to vote! Bring your family, friends, and co-workers! Let’s make this election reflect the will of the people!

VOTE on September 4th! Massachusetts Primary Elections


If you live in Massachusetts, you have a Primary Election one week from today on September 4, 2018.  Yes, that’s the day after Labor Day!  As general elections in Massachusetts are often uncontested or with minimal opposition to the incumbent, the primary election is YOUR opportunity to have YOUR voice heard.  This year there is an opportunity to vote for several progressive candidates to shake up the complacent Democratic Party establishment.  Despite a clear majority in the Commonwealth’s legislature, Democrats have been hesitant to challenge Republican governor Charlie Baker, and failed to pass popular legislation such as the Safe Communities Act to protect immigrants’ rights or reform the FBRC school funding formula.

If you are a registered member of the Democratic, Libertarian, or Republican parties, you may vote on your party’s ballot on the primary election day.  If you’re an independent – or, “Unenrolled” in official parlance – you may select the ballot of any ONE party to vote on.

Use this tool to find your ballot and where to vote: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/WhereDoIVoteMA/bal/MyElectionInfo.aspx

You can also find a list of candidates for state primaries in Boston here: https://www.boston.gov/sites/default/files/2018_-_09-04-18_-_state_primary_candidates_all_parties.pdf

I am an independent and will be voting on the Democratic Party ballot. Here is who I will be voting for:

(NOTE: I’ve not included endorsements for Governor’s Council, Clerk of Supreme Judicial Court, Clerk of Superior Court (Civil Business), and Clerk of Superior Court (Criminal Business) because I have not been able to find enough information about the candidates)

Candidates who are not in my district, but have my support, include:

  • REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS (EIGHTH DISTRICT): Brianna Wu
  • REPRESENTATIVE IN GENERAL COURT (NINTH SUFFOLK DISTRICT): Jon Santiago
  • REPRESENTATIVE IN GENERAL COURT (FIFTEENTH SUFFOLK DISTRICT): Nika Elugardo