In most countries around the world it feels like politics is in a worse place than it has been in a long time. On every side of the fence there are questions of corruption and pandering to the highest bidder meaning that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. No country is more under the spotlight when it comes to this inequality than the USA. This documentary looks at four women involved in a grassroots movement trying to ensure that everyday people are represented by those like themselves, rather than a privileged elite.
Central to the film is Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez, a young Latina waitress standing for congress in the Bronx. Her opponent is an older white man who has gone unchallenged for twenty years and does not live in the community he claims to represent. He does not attend representative meetings in person and has no shame in taking large donations from powerful corporate benefactors.
There are a lot of interesting angles on the go here. First is the idea of old versus new. The political structure is so weighted in favour of the establishment that the task of attempting to even get onto the ballot seems herculean, by design. On the other hand the establishment is so out of touch with the people that they are supposed to represent and how to engage them that complacency becomes their worst enemy.
Another side to this is the way women, particularly women of colour are perceived when trying to take on roles that give them power. Ocasia-Cortez is seen doing affirmations where she reminds herself that she is allowed to take up space since her opponent is likely to focus on her stature, experience and age rather than her policies. She is also seen discussing the challenges of how she must appear physically versus how little attention is paid to male politicians’ appearance.
And finally there is a look at the challenges the women in question have faced due to what they perceive as unfair policies, particularly related to healthcare.
All of this makes for a very engaging and often enraging documentary. As Ocasia-Cortez says, “one hundred of us have to try for even one of us to make it”. I will admit that I don’t know that much about the US political system. I am not sure exactly what a “primary” is or how the machine really works but I will still drawn in to what is essentially an underdog story about people trying to make a difference.
I suppose as a criticism it could be seen as being a bit one-sided and worthy but I found it inspiring and gripping. Worth a watch for anyone interested in the politics of equality.