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After Standing Ovation at Sundance, Ocasio-Cortez Says 'All Hands on Deck' Against 'Systemic Injustices' That Led to Trump

"We need to realize that our democracy does belong to us, and when we don't participate in it, when we don't invest in it, when we don't put our own energy into it, what we are doing is we are giving it away to somebody else."


After the premiere of Knock Down the House at the MARC Theatre in Park City, Utah on Sunday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) addressed the audience through a video call. (Photo: Sean P. Means/The Salt Lake Tribune).

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who told the audience that just getting rid of President Donald Trump will not be enough to repair the nation's ills, received a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival as she appeared via Skype at the Sunday premiere of a documentary featuring her grassroots campaign and stunning primary upset last year.

"I think overall, we need to realize that our democracy does belong to us, and when we don't participate in it, when we don't invest in it, when we don't put our own energy into it, what we are doing is we are giving it away to somebody else, and we give it away usually to a very small group of people," Ocasio-Cortez said.

While the freshman congresswoman is a longtime critic of Trump, she framed his election as the consequence of a degraded democratic system that requires reforms and greater public engagement. According to the Daily Beast, following the debut of Knock Down the House, she said:

I hope everyone walks away knowing that we are still in a mode where it's all hands on deck for our democracy. This is not just about the president of the United States. He could be gone tomorrow and that will not change the systemic injustices that led to his election, so it's important that we continue to be all hands on deck in this fight. We are so early on. We can do 2018 again better in 2020, so when someone tells you that they're going to run for office, believe in them early, don't dismiss them, and know that when we all participate, and when we all know what we have to give, and when we choose to give it, our nation will be better. We have no other choice.

Agreeing with her remarks, the group Public Citizen tweeted, "So long as a handful of rich donors have outsized influence over who's elected and what's debated in Congress, our democracy will remain broken."


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Knock Down the House was directed by Rachel Lears, known for the Emmy-nominated The Hand That Feeds. Her latest documentary is set to be screened at the festival in Park City, Utah throughout the week, followed by New York City's Athena Festival in March.

The film, as Sundance describes it,

follows four women—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin—who join a movement of insurgent candidates to topple incumbents in an electric primary race for Congress. At a moment of historic volatility in American politics, these four women—all political outsiders—unite to do what many consider impossible. Their efforts result in a legendary upset.

Ocasio-Cortez was the only one of the four who was ultimately elected to Congress, but her primary victory in June, followed by a widely expected win in November, shook the entire Democratic Party establishment.

Since taking office, she has stuck to the positions that earned her a national spotlight after her primary—from demanding that the Trump administration promote peace in the Middle East and calling for a 70 percent marginal tax rate for the ultra wealthy to securing seats on the House Oversight as well as Financial Services committees.

Watch the trailer for Knock Down the House:

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