I think there is a lot of confusion about socialism in America. Most conservatives think that Sanders is a socialist when he’s really just a social democrat. On the other hand, most conservatives who think they fear Bernie Sanders are oblivious to the “socialism for the rich” that pervades the country. They fail to understand that the reason the top 1% devours 20% of the national income has much more to do with public policy outcomes than with the way free markets work. That’s what Bernie is working against.
“Socialism” is a fear tactic designed by conservatives to work against the left, even though the left here is considered right of center in Europe.
For some more details on what I mean by public policy choices that lead to socialism for the rich, check out this article: