Will Americans actually support a democratic socialist in the Democratic Presidential primaries? Sanders himself has conceded that the odds are heavily against him. Even if Clinton emerges as the Democratic nominee, a good showing by Sanders could strengthen the democratic socialist current in American life.
We can expect the right-wing echo chamber -- including Fox News hosts, Tea Party politicians, and Rush Limbaugh -- to attack Sanders for espousing an ideology that they'll likely describe as foreign, European, and un-American. But Sanders's views are in sync with a longstanding American socialist tradition.
Rush, let me talk to you the way I'd talk to someone who knows absolutely nothing about the differences between capitalism and socialism. When a business owner decides on a wage policy for his employees, that is something that only happens in capitalism. In socialism, the government doesn't just set a minimum wage; it determines all wages.
Chattanooga has proven to everyone else that having a public option for internet, cable, and phone service is better for consumers. And though the big companies would never admit it, the competition that socialist local broadband networks provide is the heart of the free-market capitalism they claim to espouse.
Restated for the 21st century, "socialism" simply means that a people's judgments about its own economic life come before the supposedly iron rules of the international economy. It would be fair to call it "economic democracy." The condescending view of the Greeks as somehow not understanding economic reason and the direction of history writes off this kind of economic democracy as infeasible, archaic, and probably senseless. Syriza's government has a chance to reverse the lens. Economic democracy (or, as Syriza calls it, socialism) is politics that puts human needs first and accepts that market-based destabilization, impoverishment, and humiliation are not natural disasters or comeuppance for bad behavior but forms of political violence.