In the coming Social Security debate, Democrats should dust-off Clinton's 'mend it, don't end it' rhetoric. I can't take credit for this idea; I heard someone suggest it in an email exchange. If it's a bad idea I take the grief for pushing it forward. But I think it is very shrewd since it frames the debate in advance as equating privatization with abolishing Social Security, which of course it does.
I'm not saying the phrase should be adopted intact without any adjustments or that it's a perfect fit. But this debate is a classic case where framing the issue is key -- the strategic choice that determines who wins the battle before it even begins.
The strength of the Republican privatization argument -- and all their rhetoric and strategy point to this -- is the contention that privatization is just a reform, a way to improve or save Social Security, or to put it simply, a way to make sure people get their checks when they retire. But what this is really about is abolishing Social Security; and that fact needs to be taken as granted -- not even a subject of debate -- in the way Democrats frame the debate and how they talk about the subject.
To look at this debate in any other way is to be willfully ignorant of history. Republicans -- particularly the party's conservative wing which now entirely dominates the party -- have wanted to abolish Social Security for half a century.