The conventional wisdom still holds that "Social Security is the third rail in American politics." The metaphor refers, of course, to the third rail of electric-powered trains, and touching that rail will most likely be fatal.
Like most conventional wisdom, though, it is clearly wrong. For example, if some politician discussed making social security voluntary, it is difficult to see how such a concept would be fatal—especially if articulated to younger voters. What would be fatal is the notion of taking social security away from those already receiving and relying on it, and I've never heard anyone suggest that.
The real third rail is a concept that would be popular with the majority of our citizens, but under current PC diktat would nonetheless be fatal. This real third rail is quite simple: Imposing qualifications for voting.
I'm not talking about any sort of literacy test or a poll tax. Rather, I suggest that one need to be a taxpayer and/or not be on welfare to be allowed to vote. The specific terms involved can be debated, but most would agree that those who are not paying into the system should have no say in what it pays out.
Charity is a wonderful thing, but it is only in our perverse social welfare state that it can be dictated (at least partially) by the recipient. It's bad enough that politicians (mostly Democrats) have perfected the art of giving gifts to public employees' unions, so they will continue to vote Democratic, and pay for the re-election campaigns. As taxpayers, these workers are entitled to having a say, even if they are obviously gaming the system. That problem must be dealt with separately.
Of course, imposing qualifications for voting, and doing many other things that could possibly fix our broken system will probably never happen. And, by the way, this includes the foolish "Return to the Constitution" nonsense that we hear all the time.
If you read Article I Section 8, you will see that Congress can do whatever it wants: "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."
The Feds have grabbed power right from the beginning, and as mass communications improved, they have grabbed it all the more.
I am not optimistic about turning around our nation's decline, but two things would be essential: Term limits and requirements for voting. Good luck having either of these come true.