SELLING PRIVATIZATION….How long have conservatives been working to prepare the ground for Social Security privatization? For over two decades, reports Janet Hook in the LA Times today:

“It could be many years before the conditions are such that a radical reform of Social Security is possible,” wrote Stuart Butler and Peter Germanis, Heritage Foundation analysts, in a 1983 article in the Cato Journal. “But then, as Lenin well knew, to be a successful revolutionary, one must also be patient and consistently plan for real reform.”

The Cato article Hook is referring to isn’t actually as sinister as the Lenin reference makes it sound (you can read it here), but it is fascinating. It basically lays out a long-term strategy for moving public opinion, and the conservative message machine has followed that strategy for 20 years through thick and thin:

“It started as the third rail of politics, but over a period of time conservatives kept at it until [their assumptions] began to sound like common sense,” said George Lakoff, an expert in political communication at UC Berkeley.

Public opinion is the key to political change, and changing public opinion takes a long time. This piece is a wonderful little primer on how it’s done.