(CNN) A surprising 47% of Americans would vote for a socialist to be president. Bernie Sanders can become viable -- simply by winning over an additional 4%.
Could he? Probably. But not by appealing to foreign models (e.g., Denmark). Americans are skeptical of foreign, European solutions.
Fortunately for him, Sanders need not search overseas to see his values in action.
Right here in the United States, we have Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration -- all of which have socialist elements. Socialist ideas inspired much of the labor movement, which brought everyone something called "The Weekend."
Americans hate to admit this. But since the Great Depression, we have not had a true "market economy." We are a mixed economy -- blending (mainly) free market principles with some socialist ideals. Many of our nation's greatest social achievements were once called "socialist" -- including, for example, free public education.
Therefore, Sanders could talk about how his ideals have contributed to America's historical greatness. He could position himself as defending and extending the work of our grandparents -- who tamed Wall Street and softened the edges of industrial capitalism.
His praise of foreign lands gets him dismissed as both alien and red. Bernie Sanders would be better off showing how his ideas are actually "red, white and blue."
Van Jones is president of Dream Corps and Rebuild the Dream, which promote innovative solutions for America's economy. He was President Barack Obama's green jobs adviser in 2009. A best-selling author, he is also founder of Green for All, a national organization working to build a green economy. Follow him on Twitter @VanJones68.