Alexandra Pelosi is known for her personal documentaries that aim to build bridges and engage with people who hold different political views. In her latest documentary, “The Insurrectionist Next Door,” she takes this approach to its limits by spending time with individuals who participated in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
A Unique Perspective
It’s worth noting that Pelosi present at the Capitol that day and even captured remarkable footage of her mother, Nancy Pelosi, who the Speaker of the House at the time. This footage feature in her 2022 documentary “Pelosi in the House.”
Seeking to Understand Motivations
In “The Insurrectionist Next Door,” her 15th film in collaboration with HBO, Pelosi follows several individuals who arrest for their involvement in the Capitol breach. She gently attempts to extract their motivations, any regrets they might have, and whether their experiences have shaken their allegiance to former President Trump.
Predictably, Pelosi finds that most of her subjects remain unrepentant and firmly believe that the election stolen from Trump. For instance, during a meeting with Paul Hodgkins, who served an eight-month prison sentence, Pelosi expresses her surprise upon discovering that he is an avid viewer of OAN, a hard-right network known for contributing to the animosity surrounding the election.
The Impossibility of Bridging the Divide
Throughout the documentary, it becomes evident that the gaping divide between the deeply held convictions of these individuals and the reality of the events of January 6 leaves very little room for meaningful conversation or a change of heart. Even as Pelosi playfully asks questions about what might have happened had they encountered Mike Pence or posed a threat to her mother, the chasm between their beliefs and reality is stark.
A Quest for Understanding
Pelosi remains steadfast in her quest to understand these individuals. She engages in a conversation with Johnny Harris, who insists that January 6 orchestrate by government operatives disguised as Trump supporters. While she emphasizes the importance of trying to understand one another, the gap between their worldviews seems almost insurmountable.
An Evolving Perspective
The documentary also features Ronnie Sandlin, who is currently in prison for his actions on January 6. Sandlin appears to be one of the few whose attitude has evolved over time. He acknowledges that “a lot of very sane people lost their sanity for a couple of hours.”
A Challenging Endeavor
While Pelosi’s documentary does succeed in fostering empathy for some of the individuals it profiles, it also underscores the disheartening reality that when the gap between conflicting views is this wide and when unwavering belief in disinformation is this toxic, finding common ground becomes nearly impossible.
Pelosi’s attempt to understand and bridge this divide, however, is a commendable effort in an era of deeply polarized politics.