Best Quotes From The “Knock Down The House” Documentary


Neil: This documentary largely focuses on the rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), who won her 2018 NY-14 Democratic primary challenge vs. Rep. Joe Crowley. AOC’s message and movement are so powerful because she embodies and articulates the Progressive message better than anyone in America including Bernie Sanders. Bernie blazed the trail that AOC is now marching triumphantly.

This documentary also features Cori Bush, Amy Vilela, and Paula Jean Swearengin.

I was born in Cori Bush’s district (MO-01) and have been closely following her story since her first campaign in 2016. Cori Bush lost 57% to 37% in 2018 (the focus of this documentary) and won 49% to 46% in 2020. Let those margins be an inspiration to anyone who’s ever challenged the establishment and lost. Run again! Cori Bush’s US Congressional seat had been represented by Lacy Clay (2001-2020) or his father Bill Clay (1969-2000) since nearly 20 years before I was born (1988).

Mike Brown’s murder in Ferguson (which is in this district) in 2014, led Cori Bush, a registered nurse, into activism and politics. The injustice and protests in Ferguson also sparked my political activism, so I’m excited to see what Cori Bush can do for my hometown and our country as a US Representative.

This post is part of my series of Notes collecting quotes from my favorite documentaries, interviews, and speeches.


AOC: “Getting ready, for women, it involves so many decisions about how you’re going to present yourself to the world.

  • Neil: Reminds me of this quote from Hillary Clinton: “I spent 25 days doing hair and makeup. And I knew that the men I was running against didn’t have to do any of that.”

AOC: “We’re running to organize. We’re running to redefine the political landscape in New York City. And here’s the best part about all of this: We’re not running to make a statement, we’re not running to pressure the incumbent to the left. We’re running to win.

AOC: “If I was like a normal, rational person, I would have dropped out of this race a long time ago.”

AOC: “My experience in hospitality has prepared me so well for this race. I’m used to being on my feet 18 hours a day. I’m used to receiving a lot of heat. I’m used to people trying to make me feel bad. They call it “working class” for a reason. Because you’re working nonstop. Americans aren’t asking for a lot. They’re just asking to get by. And they’re just asking for politicians to be brave enough to help them get by.

AOC: “This is not just about Democrat vs. Republican, in fact, it’s so far away from that. It’s not Left or Right, it’s up and down.

Corbin Trent (Justice Democrats): “The biggest shared goal (with Brand New Congress) is removing the corrupting influence of money in politics. The idea is to provide an alternative path to Congress outside the current one that currently exists. Right now we have a path through lobbyists and through special interest groups. Right now our Congress is 81% men. It’s mostly white men, it’s mostly millionaires, it’s mostly lawyers.”

AOC: “New York isn’t Democrat vs. Republican. New York is establishment versus whatever poor, stray cat thinks you can stand up against them. And then if you do stand up against them, they take you and they consume you.”

AOC: “In the beginning, the fundamental question is like, “Why you? Why do you think you can do this?” The reason why is because nobody else would. So, literally anyone could, right? Because the alternative is no one.

Paula Jean Swearengin: “If another country come in here, blew up our mountains and poisoned our water, we’d go to war. But industry can.

AOC: “What political machines do is they suppress democracy. The whole game here is to prevent you from getting on the ballot in the first place.”

AOC: “For every ten rejections, you get one acceptance. And that’s how you win everything.

AOC: “Anyone who wants to keep their job in New York City would never dream of challenging Joe Crowley. It has to come from outside Queens. It has to come from someone new on the political scene, that they don’t foresee coming, that they can’t offer a job or pressure in another way. And it needs to be someone who represents our community in more ways than one. Basically, an insurgent, outside, grassroots candidate that is a woman of color from the Bronx.”

Cori Bush: “I’m a registered nurse. I’m an ordained pastor. I’m a mother of two teenagers. I was not trying to become an activist. Didn’t set out to do that. This is the district where Mike Brown was murdered. I only live six minutes from Ferguson… It was like a battle zone at home. I took to the streets to lend my hand as a nurse. What I was wanting to see was justice happen. It didn’t happen. So I just kept going back again and again. This district was able to affect the whole world.

CB: “Being a woman of color, our image is really scrutinized. You have to speak like this, you have to dress like this. I decided that, “yeah, I don’t care.” Basically, you deal with it. You know, people in my district, this is how we look. I’m going to serve and represent the people of my district.”

AOC: “I’m running because of Cori Bush. I’m running because of Paula Jean Swearengin. I’m running because everyday Americans deserve to be represented by everyday Americans.

CB: “If we can get even just 15 more people across the country that will come in in 2019 and perform, how much greater will we be? And then in two more years, 30. And that’s what I’m looking at. Like, it’s just continuing to grow.”

AOC: “I’m running to represent the Bronx. I’m a third generation Bronxite. I’m a Latina, I’m a Boricua, I’m a descendant of Taino Indians. I am proud to be an American! But we have to rise to that promise.

AOC: “My mom cleaned houses growing up. She would clean a woman’s home in exchange for SAT lessons for me.”

AOC: “This is the difference between an organizer and a strategist. What am I trying to get people to do? Two things: I want them to know my name, and I want them to know that they need to vote.”

AOC: “Deliver is insider talk. Deliver means “pork.”

Riley Roberts (AOC’s partner/advisor): “One of these core, core issues in the Democratic establishment is that their consultants are garbage.”

AOC: “Who’s willing to lead an event, and have a couple friends over, to do any of the things we just talked about? Raise your hands if you’re willing to do it. All right. All right. Now, if you just raised your hand, I want you to stand up. Got ‘em. Applause. Give them a round of applause.”

AOC: “Everybody in this room knows five to ten people. And then those five to ten people know another five to ten people. Frankly, big money is very lonely, and we’ve got people on our side.

AOC: “We released our campaign video on Tuesday, it just blew up. Before we knew it, we passed $200,000. And that’s like, a race. But the question is “has this all come with enough time to make a difference?”

  • “This race is about people vs. money. We’ve got people, they’ve got money. It’s time we acknowledge that not all Democrats are the same. That a Democrat who takes corporate money, profits off foreclosure, doesn’t live here, doesn’t send his kids to our schools, doesn’t drink our water or breathe our air, cannot possibly represent us.”
  • It doesn’t take a hundred years to do this. It takes political courage.

AOC: “The guy who won’t show up to a hundred-person community debate has now agreed to debate me live on New York One. I am frankly a little scared. This is either a really big misstep that they’ve made, or they have this really well planned.”

Amy Vilela: “When you’re running for office, and you’re not, you know, a typical candidate, you have to remember your “why.””

AV: It’s not just our family. It’s 30,000 families a year. Thirty thousand of us a year. They’re losing a loved one because they don’t have insurance. No one in this great country should be dying because they don’t understand the intricate system of insurance. And why is it difficult? Because of algorithms, because of risk assessment, because of CFOs that work in that field are sitting there figuring out ways to make optimum profits for their shareholders. This (holding up cell phone) is a commodity. My daughter’s life wasn’t.

AV: “We all handle it differently. A lot of grieving parents that I’ve been in contact with, they’re sort of, like, really shocked that I’m able to do as much as I’m doing. For me, it’s “How can I not?” I will never stop. I will not allow my daughter to have died for nothing.

AV: “Some of us have gotta get through. It’s not about any one of us individually. It’s about the… the whole movement.” AOC: “It’s just the reality that for one of us to make it through, 100 have to try.”

AOC: “After ten years of failed leadership, we have lost 1,000 Democratic seats nationwide. We have lost the House, we have lost the Senate, we have lost the Presidency. And it would be a profound mistake if we believe that the same leadership getting us into this mess will get us out. Because what’s going to get us out is improved and expanded Medicare for All. What’s going to get us out is a federal jobs guarantee. What’s going to get us out is the abolition of ICE. What’s going to get us out is a $15 minimum wage.”

AOC: “I get scared of the cynicism that could result from people really believing in something and then it not working out. I just don’t want to let them down.”

AOC: “We meet a machine with a movement and that is what we have done today.”

AOC: “The last thing my Dad ever told me was to make him proud. And I finally think I did. I hope.”

Published by Neil Thanedar

Neil Thanedar is an entrepreneur, investor, scientist, altruist, and author. He is the founder & GP of Utopic, a pre-seed biotech VC fund investing in the future of science. He is also the founder & chairman of Air to All, a 501(c)3 nonprofit medical device startup, and Labdoor, a consumer watchdog with $7M+ in funding and 20M+ users. He previously co-founded Avomeen Analytical Services, a product development and testing lab acquired for $30M+ in 2016. He has also served as Executive Director of The Detroit Partnership and Senior Advisor to his father Shri Thanedar in his campaigns for Governor, State Representative, and US Congress in Michigan.