Four Possible Futures for U.S. Democracy: Scenarios for Strategic Conversations

Four Possible Futures for U.S. Democracy: Scenarios for Strategic Conversations - Proteus Fund

Corporate and oligarchic actors are driving attempts to undermine democratic institutions in order to consolidate political power in the service of wealthy economic interests, to the detriment of communities of color and working-class communities. Just this year, those actors have fought to limit voting rights, restrict the right to protest, weaken the power of courts to protect rights, and use political contributions to influence electoral and judicial outcomes.

These threats to democratic governance are not new. What we are experiencing today is rooted in our nation’s history of systemic racism and political inequality – burdens that have been carried most prominently over the years by working class Black communities, Indigenous communities, and communities of color.

To mitigate the influence of wealthy interests on our democracy and build power for underrepresented communities – for the betterment of us all – we must break the link between the accumulation of wealth and political influence.  And yet, the field has struggled due to a lack of a shared long-term strategy; the existence of funding silos that hinder collaboration; and an inconsistent infusion of resources to support transformational efforts.

In late 2020, the Piper Fund saw the need to step back from the urgent and taxing daily battles in order to survey the larger landscape with a longer-term perspective – where these battles come from in the past and where they might go in the future. The Piper Fund also saw the need, as a field, to break out of our silos to explore and identify the potential futures we may face as a nation, to understand the structural gaps that limit our progress, and to build strategic alignment around how to collectively proceed.

Cover photo for a report titled "Four Possible Futures for U.S. Democracy: Scenarios for Strategic Conversations" on a purple background with a red-orange circle on the right.

The following scenario report is the outcome of phase one of this work. Working with Reos Partners, a global consultancy, we convened dozens of experts with varied perspectives this spring and summer to form a “Scenario Team” to envision the possible futures ahead. The imagined futures in this report draw from those conversations.

The scenarios do not reflect the opinions or hopes of any one person or organization, but rather draw from varied and often conflicting opinions across approaches and disciplines.

We hope that these scenarios will prove useful not only for the participants in this process but also for others looking to step back from our day-to-day work to see the big picture and consider what more we might need to build to create a true democracy. Following this scenario planning process, we intend to continue to learn together and to build a cohesive set of strategies to move our work forward together.

If you would like to learn more about the initiative, please contact me at

Download: Four Possible Futures for U.S. Democracy- Scenarios for Strategic Conversations