“One parallel could be when Barry Goldwater lost in 1964,” said Waleed Shahid, a director at Justice Democrats, a progressive organization that works to elect candidates like Ocasio-Cortez. Goldwater, a Republican, won just six states in the 1964 presidential election but his opposition to government intervention – including opposing the 1964 Civil Rights Act – arguably laid groundwork for the future of the GOP.
Shahid said: “There was a whole generation of conservative activists, organizers, intellectuals who felt emboldened to kind of plant the seeds of a movement, and that movement ultimately 16 years later led to Ronald Reagan.
“And I feel like when Bernie Sanders loss in 2016 is similar to that where I think that just ushered in a whole new generation of candidates, organizers, intellectuals who feel emboldened now.”
Shahid said Ocasio-Cortez plus candidates like Andrew Gillum, running for governor of Florida, and Ben Jealous, running for governor of Maryland, have been able to run for national office because of Sanders’ presidential campaign.