There are some on the political Right who fear that future history books will recount the current era something like this:
In the bitter elections of 2014 Republicans kept the House of Representatives and won a Senate majority. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy died the day after the vote.
Desperate to reshape the high court while Democrats still controlled the Senate, President Barack Obama promptly nominated liberal Nina Pillard and urged her immediate confirmation. Pillard had just become a federal judge after Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid changed Senate rules to prevent Republicans from filibustering her nomination.
Reid summoned the lame duck Senate into session and over Republican protests rammed through another rules change so a simple majority could force a vote on Pillard's nomination. Liberals quickly had their long-coveted Supreme Court majority, which would soon prove crucial.
Obama had already undermined the constitutional separation of powers by refusing to enforce immigration laws, failing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, making myriad changes to Obamacare, and aggressively using executive orders to unilaterally act in cases where Congress would not. Now confronting a Republican Congress he demonstrated even greater disregard of the legislative branch.
Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups had failed, but Obama turned to other bureaucratic means of shutting off the money supply to his ideological opponents. Meanwhile, wealthy liberals who bankrolled his favored causes, like George Soros and Tom Steyer, were left alone.
Obama also ratcheted up efforts to shut down conservative speech. He praised colleges and universities that had formally or effectively disinvited controversial or conservative speakers like Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Condoleezza Rice and refused to criticize those who sought to silence opposing viewpoints.
Although he had recently backed traditional marriage, the newly converted Obama lauded companies like Mozilla for forcing out executives who had done the same. Indeed, under Obama's leadership the Left tried to demonize those who dared express any differing perspectives even in private.
The Donald Sterling affair offered a useful template. Sterling's NBA basketball team was taken from him after a girlfriend recorded and revealed a private conversation in which he made racist statements.
Not only were ordinary citizens now encouraged to expose others whose communications were politically incorrect, but Obama also opened the possibility of using the government's secret surveillance apparatus to monitor speech that the ruling elites deemed dangerous or improper.
For example, anyone opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants, supporting strict voter identification laws, resisting further redefinitions of marriage, or questioning climate change were to be exposed, ostracized, and punished with the help of a compliant liberal media. Obama, the former community organizer, urged remnants of the unsuccessful Occupy Wall Street movement to revive and put populist pressure on nonconformist holdouts.
An apathetic public, alienated by chronic underemployment, benumbed by legalized marijuana and illegal heroin, enslaved to their electronic devices, and content to live comfortably on government largesse, barely murmured. But this slumbering populace stirred to life when Obama urged more aggressive redistribution of wealth to guarantee a middle class standard of living for all.
Attorney General Eric Holder ramped up his rhetoric of class and race conflict. Even more than before Holder blamed the so-called “one percent” and claimed that any resistance to Obama's agenda was racially motivated. Tensions grew and sometimes boiled over into violence in the streets.
Things got worse when Obama and congressional Republicans could not agree on a budget. The government shut down, benefit payments stopped, and well-orchestrated protests spread across the country.
Obama seized on the situation to assert expansive emergency executive powers. With inflation ravaging the country from years of printing money and interest rates rising, he confiscated certain assets and properties and ordered some government expenditures on his own authority.
The Supreme Court had been busy reinterpreting the First Amendment to give government more power than ever before over religious expression and political speech, but now approved Obama's actions by one vote. Writing for the court's liberal bloc Justice Sonia Sotomayor equated the situation to times of war since the crisis was also taking place against a backdrop of international turmoil.
Despite the recently negotiated Kerry-Zarif Treaty for which the American secretary of state had won a Nobel Peace Prize, Iran had caught America by surprise when it conducted a nuclear test. The mullahs issued an ultimatum that Israel either accede to Palestinian demands or cease to exist.
In a coordinated strike, China seized territories throughout the Pacific as Russia moved to recover the entirety of the former Soviet Union. Attacks of unknown origins are launched against the American internet and power grid.
Addressing the nation, Obama said stability was paramount in such perilous times and declared it too dangerous to hold a presidential election under such circumstances. Congressional elections could proceed, he said, but his duty to defend the Constitution required him to suspend it, but only temporarily, of course.
Is such political paranoia reasonable? No, or at least not to the extreme extent of this doomsday scenario. But history teaches that it is also unreasonable to pretend there is no danger to the American republic from anything included in or resembling this nightmare.
John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jddyche.