I have always thought that if we lost our republic, it would not be a dramatic shift to an open dictatorship; rather, it would be a shift from a republic to something that still seemed to have the form of a republic. Rather like the Roman Empire, when Augustus, the first emperor, ruled as the "first citizen" in what was sold as a continuation of the republic, complete with a Senate that persisted for hundreds of years. Is our government the "real" government, or are all of the decisions for the national security state made behind the scenes, with the president more or less a figurehead? I don't mean to sound paranoid; I am agnostic about this, but I wonder about the scope of the National Security Act of 1947. It doesn't seem that the last couple of elections made much difference from the Bush years. And somehow, there are always enough people who are suborned to make sure that real change never happens, as we saw in last week's NSA vote.
Michael Johnson seems to be thinking along the same lines.