Dante Atkins, a progressive communicator, and strategist, and principal at Atkins Strategies, laid out a plausible scenario for an American dictatorship. He wrote it as a New York Times story from 2025. It appeared originally on Twitter, and we are running it here with his kind permission.
America's emerging dictatorship has liberals on edge. But for some, the stability and absence of hard choices is a welcome change.
By Maggie Haberman, et al.
June 19, 2025
It happened imperceptibly, and then all at once.
After a hotly contested 2024 election in which incumbent President Joe Biden carried the national popular vote by 9 million votes and appeared to carry the vote in states representing more than the 270 electoral votes necessary, it appeared that Mr. Biden was on his way to serving a second term. Instead, an unpredictable series of events has led to a dramatic change in the American form of government.
First, Republican Secretaries of State and legislatures in states carried by Joe Biden refused to certify Mr. Biden's apparent wins in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, throwing the electoral count into doubt. In the ensuing landmark case before the Supreme Court, "Biden v. Wisconsin," Justice Thomas, writing for the 5-4 majority, held that under the newly adopted Independent Legislature Theory, neither federal nor state courts had the authority to challenge actions decided by state legislatures, who were then free to submit slates of electors chosen by legislatures themselves, rather than by voters.
In the ensuing chaos in the Electoral College, no candidate received a certified majority of the vote, resulting, according to the Constitution, in an election decided by the Congressional Delegations of each state. This vote was won by Donald Trump, with Wyoming being the 26th vote.
All of the preceding is unusual, but occurred within the framework of America's Constitution, jurisprudence, and electoral system. But now, a new challenge has emerged in the form of those same legislatures refusing to allocate funds or support for federal elections in 2028.
The Democratic National Committee, citing irreparable harm, sued those same states to compel them told federal elections. But in a dramatic decision that could alter the course of history, Justice Barrett, writing, again, for a 5-4 majority, wrote that upholding precedent, regardless of its consequences, was the most hallowed responsibility of the Supreme Court and American jurisprudence more broadly, and thus that the legislatures were well within their constitutional rights not to hold federal elections.
Writing for the majority, Justice Barrett recognized, however, that the Constitution did require that Mr. Trump's term of office end on January 20, 2029, and without a constitutionally elected President-Elect in place, Barrett found that nowhere in the Constitution could it be found that a person who was not elected president could not exercise the authority granted to a President, and therefore, that the ideal solution would be, in practicality, for Mr. Trump's authority to be extended indefinitely.
Barrett also found that should Mr. Trump die or become incapacitated, he could be "replaced on the ballot" by the party that nominated him for the presidency, and that that individual would assume Mr. Trump's powers as the "Republican nominee" until the crisis was resolved.
In practice, this has led to a situation that was once unthinkable: an acting President of the United States serving an indefinite term of office whose successor is chosen exclusively by activists and delegates from the ruling political party.
This series of rulings, as well as public calls for prosecution of leading Democrats for treason by Acting Attorney General Marjorie Taylor Greene, has many liberals on edge, alleging that American democracy is "on the verge of collapse," according to a recent NYT/Siena poll.
While Democrats feel that America has suffered what amounts to a coup, Republicans take the opposite view: the developments leading to indefinite one-party rule were simply an outgrowth of constitutional processes with a solution available for Democrats who are discomfited.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, for instance, while admitting that indefinite one-party rule was unusual, noted that "if Democrats are so concerned about the actions of state legislatures, they should try winning a few. Nothing prevents them from holding elections if they win."
For Democrats, however, that easy solution may not be so simple. According to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the party committee responsible for electing Democrats to state legislatures, the way districts are drawn makes that a prohibitive challenge.
Heather Williams, Executive Director of the DLCC, commented via an encrypted messaging service while avoiding U.S. Marshalls seeking her on an indictment for treason, espionage, and other federal charges that "the way districts are drawn simply makes it impossible.
Even in states carried by Biden and where Democrats win a majority of the vote, gerrymandering (the process of drawing unrepresentative and strangely-shaped districts for political purposes) ensure that Republicans sometimes control supermajorities in those legislatures."
While the political battle rages between elected leaders and committees of both parties, the response from the average voter is more muted. At a truck stop diner outside of Columbus, Ohio, Jeremy Williams, 55, said that these changes could make things easier.
"I liked Trump before and I like Trump now, so I trust him to run the country and make the best decisions," said Williams. And when asked about America's cherished tradition of quadrennial democratic elections. Mr. Williams demurred.
"Voting for president is hard because you don't really know the people you're choosing. But I know Trump and I like him, so that's one less thing to think about," said Williams. Democrats are less convinced.
Congressman Jamie Raskin, reached The New York Times from a secure location to disagree vehemently with the rulings of the Supreme Court and the coverage the changes in American government have received in the media.
"We literally fought a revolution and drafted a constitution to get out from under a hereditary monarchy and allow citizens to choose their leaders, and now the Court has somehow decided that the Constitution actually leads to a hereditary monarchy. It's insane," said Raskin.
Still, many former voters remain unconvinced. As Mr. Williams noted, 'We've had family dynasties before. The Roosevelts, the Kennedys, the Bushes. And I think Trump's kids could do a great job too, except for maybe the Jewish one. Not so sure about her.' "
Chief reporting by Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin, with polling by Nate Cohn.