Jeffery, I find nothing to disagree with you on. Most Americans like small steps forward, not gigantic leaps. Hence Obama's loss of the House in 2010, Bill Clinton's loss of congress in 1994. They don't want to be taken out of their comfort zone. Going to the edge is fine, but not over. Like it or not, the Trump campaign playing tape after tape of Sanders calling himself a self-described Democratic Socialist would have meant a good sized defeat. Yes, the fear of socialism does go back to the beginning of the cold war. With the USSR which many Americans equated socialism with communism. After all it was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic.
Remember the saying, only Nixon could have gone to China? No Democrat could have done that and normalized relation with then Red China. They would have been hung. Nixon had the credentials to go to China where no one else could. Probably even no other Republican could have done that let alone a Democrat. Sanders was the wrong messenger, although I'm sure his ideas will slowly catch on and become law at some point in the near future. Perhaps whoever Biden chooses as his VP might be the right messenger in 2024.
Time will tell.
Sorry, but there is so much wrong here I am not sure where to start.
Americans took a gigantic leap in 1932, a gigantic leap away from the precipice of institutionalized Republican corruption and self-dealing.
They took another giant leap again in 1936, and again in 1940 and again in 1944, and again in 1948.
Even in 1952, when they again decided to give Republicans a chance, they elected a moderate liberal of the Republican Party, someone who made them feel assured he would not rip out the organs of the social contract but would instead help preserve them.
The Soviets could have called themselves Brethren of the Flying Spaghetti Monster for all that's worth. The fact is, they were not socialists, they were communists, and they said so openly.
They viewed socialism the way any authoritarian views it, as both a stepping stone to communism and as a means to implementing more authoritarianism by controlling who got what and how, instead of functioning as worthy public servants.
Thus the LABEL
"Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" was worth about as much as the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" or the "National Socialist Worker's Party" (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
In fact, all of that actually supports the argument about the problem with relying too much on labels to begin with.
It's a part of campaigning but when one gets right down to operating the levers of state power, both at home and in the larger world, it behooves one to drop the attention to labels and to observe the actions by which one is known instead. Thus even the most dour conservatives should recognize that the Russians were not socialists at all.
For the last forty years, Republicans have relied on tactics and methodologies that support dumbing Americans down so that they have no other frame of reference aside from that which Republicans feed them via well funded propaganda apparatus designed to foster distrust and hatred of essential domestic democratic institutions.
And no, I do not mean "democratic" as in The Democratic Party, I mean the essentials of republican democracy in a constitutional framework.
This is accurately admitted and expressed by both Trump and by Steve Bannon, when they have waxed poetic about "deconstruction of the administrative state".
That's too many syllables for Donnie, so he prefers "draining the swamp". Same thing.
And the only people who ever said "Only Nixon could have gone to China" were Nixonians. I don't remember anyone talking about "hanging a Democrat" who might have tried such a thing.
And the people who should have been hung were the ones who cleared the way for taxpayer subsidized outsourcing of all our manufacturing, while simultaneously muting any rewards for keeping manufacturing here at home.
Again, the above were policies endorsed by every Republican organ there was, from the US Chamber of Commerce on down...and UP to the TOP of the chain of command whenever a Republican has held the White House. Bush even claimed that outsourcing was good for the American economy.