Wilson's assault thrilled Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor. Gompers saw Debs as his chief rival for leadership of the union movement. His AFofL embraced capitalism and empire, and banned blacks, women, immigrants, and the unskilled.
In concert with Gompers and the Robber Barons, Wilson destroyed the American Socialist Party and what had been the mainstream acceptance of sharing the wealth as a legitimate alternative to corporate domination. His ruling elite chose instead a form of what Theodore Roosevelt called "national socialism." Dominant corporations claimed to love a capitalist free market but were always on the take for public handouts and massive bailouts. Conquering an empire came with the "patriotic" territory.
Through the next century, Socialist ideals were kept alive by the likes of Norman Thomas, Dorothy Day, and Michael Harrington. Imperial Democrat/Republicans (and the corporate media) still relentlessly brand as "unAmerican" the view that our human community should be guaranteed the basics of life, and that our nation should not be conquering other countries. With an iron fist, the two parties and their talking heads have smeared democratic socialism and social democracy to keep it out of the mainstream dialogue.
Bernie Sanders has revived much of Debs's ideology and excitement. He generally stops short of calling for public ownership of the means of production. But Bernie embraces Gene's deep commitment to Social Democracy and a system based on human justice, grassroots equality, and No Nukes ecological harmony.
In the 2016 primaries, despite underhanded sabotage from the corporate Democrat elite, Bernie got more than a dozen times as many votes as the (severely under-counted) million Gene officially got during his peak runs in 1912 and 1920 (when he ran from federal prison).
In the face of outright fascism and corporate corruption, it's time to reclaim the legitimate mainstream acceptance of American Socialism. The idea that our citizenry is entitled to ownership of our nation's core economic institutions is as American as apple pie. So is opposition to empire and a deep, abiding commitment to real grassroots social democracy.
Both Democratic Socialism and Social Democracy are American made. Accept no substitutes.
Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.