We think of it as civilized, not socialist.
When I first came to the US, I was surprised – and still am- when I realized how some people there use the word socialist. First, as if it refers to one thing when it can be used in so many different ways. Then, as something unquestionably undesirable. And finally, as a curse word!
Since it can refer to so many different systems, the word itself is not very useful unless specified. When it comes to social-democracies, as we have in Scandinavia, these countries usually come up close to or at the top when it comes to the different measures of quality of life. Maybe it is a good idea to take a pragmatic look, instead of being blinded by ideologies and misinformation.
A social safety-net, as we have here, not only benefits those of us who needs it – and that can easily be any one of us. It benefits society as a whole. One difference I notice is a baseline of fear in the US, and a baseline of trust here.