Left-wing journalist Doug Henwood recently asserted the following about Bernie Sanders:

Without his candidacy, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [...] wouldn’t be in Congress, neither would her colleagues Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

I accept that this is true of Ocasio-Cortez. As this article from Insider describes, she got involved in electoral politics through the Sanders campaign, and was supported by Brand New Congress which emerged from same.

But is Henwood right about the others? Were there any comparable links between the 2018 Congressional election campaigns of Omar and Tlaib and the 2016 Sanders presidential campaign? Or is there at least good evidence that they benefited significantly in some more indirect way?

  • 1
    "Were there any comparable links between the 2018 Congressional election campaigns of Omar and Tlaib and the 2016 Sanders presidential campaign?" This question is objectively answerable. You might be better off dropping the opinion-based speculation about whether they were part of a Sanders effect and focus more on this objective question.
    – Brythan
    Mar 6, 2019 at 4:11
  • Would it not be more realistic to say that while they may have won primaries due to a Sanders effect, they only managed to be elected because of a Trump effect?
    – jamesqf
    Mar 6, 2019 at 18:55

1 Answer 1


Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and AOC are all Justice Democrats. The group was founded in order to primary (to run against an incumbent in a primary election) establishment Democrats who have more conservative policies. Justice Democrats all stand behind Bernie's platform. All support a platform that includes Medicare For All/Single Payer Healthcare, they all support a Green New Deal, they all oppose arms sales to nations guilty of systematic human rights violations like Saudi Arabia.

The progressive groups that sprang up post 2016 that helped to get these people elected were all heavily influenced by Bernie Sanders 2016 platform, and have influenced his 2020 platform. It is part of a broad grass roots effort that includes Our Revolution which has a very similar platform to JD, Bernie Sanders organisation and Brand New Congress.

These organisations may well have been created without Bernie's 2016 campaign, as more young, left leaning people felt that their views, values and goals were not reflected or served by the Democratic party, but they were probably all heavily inspired by or motivated by Bernie's 2016 campaign.

  • Is it accurate to say they are Justice Democrats? They were endorsed by Justice Democrats, but are they affiliated with the organization? Like, have they endorseed it?
    – Obie 2.0
    Mar 6, 2019 at 9:07
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    I think your second sentence is missing a couple of words. ...founded in order to <oppose>?
    – Jontia
    Mar 6, 2019 at 13:53
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    @Jontia To "primary" someone is to run against them in the primary. Icarian is saying that they were founded in order to primary conservative democrats - that is, in order to come at them from the left the same way that the tea party republicans came at the establishment from the right by primarying moderate republicans.
    – David Rice
    Mar 6, 2019 at 14:57

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