American socialism is misunderstood.
Many Americans react negatively to the idea of socialism because they associate it with the USSR during the Cold War. People feared the USSR, and because the USSR practiced socialism, they feared socialism.
This argument is wrong. Yes, we had reason to fear the USSR – not because of its adherence to socialism, but because of its militaristic belligerence (it was a nuclear power). We have reason to fear Russia today because of its incessant scum, but it does not practice socialism as it did then.
Democratic socialism is not to be feared; it is a crucial tool used by Western democracies to deliver services to their citizens.
Democracies do not have to choose between socialism or capitalism. Democracies use a capitalist approach to much (probably most) of their economic activity, and they use a socialist approach to important activities (such as education and infrastructure) where it simply works better than capitalism.
The socialist approach educates almost 100% of our children, whereas a private enterprise (i.e. capitalist) approach would only reach those who are able to afford private school tuition. The socialist approach provides roads that we can all use, whereas a capitalist approach would require payments to drive.
Western democracies differ from each other in that they use the socialist approach. Scandinavian countries use it for more functions than us (mainly for universal health care), but they are no less democratic than us.