TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 20: U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at  a campaign rally at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump is holding his first political rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the BOK Center today while infection rates in the state of Oklahoma continue to rise. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
What if Trump loses and refuses to leave?
02:24 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: Arick Wierson, who writes frequently for CNN Opinion, is an Emmy Award-winning television producer and former senior media adviser to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He advises clients on communications strategies in the US, Africa and Latin America. Follow him on Twitter @ArickWierson. Bradley Honan, CEO of Honan Strategy Group, a Democratic polling and analytics firm, has advised the campaigns of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Tony Blair and others. Follow him on Twitter @BradleyHonan. The views expressed in this commentary are their own. View more opinion at CNN.

CNN  — 

In 100 days Americans will cast their ballots for president, Congress and 11 gubernatorial races. But these are far from anything resembling normal times, and these next 100 days might very well go down as the most consequential in American history.

Arick Wierson
Bradley Honan

What happens could have a sweeping impact not only on the more immediate concerns about whether our schools reopen in the fall or whether the federal government will continue to step up and support the more than 30 million unemployed Americans amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The next hundred days will test our resolve as a nation. They will likely force many of us to ask ourselves whether we are indeed truly committed to the democratic principles that have guided our country – for better or for worse – for the past 244 years. This will be a time of national reckoning like none other.

Typically, when political analysts consider hundred-day periods, they automatically think of the first 100 days of a presidency – widely regarded as the period in which a president can best leverage the momentum of his recent election to pass new legislation as well as set the tone for the remainder of his term. “The First 100 Days” is a phrase that was coined by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who came into office in the midst of a catastrophic period of economic upheaval that would later be known as the Great Depression.

But the next hundred-day period, the time between today and November 3, could very well be crucial.

Here is where the nation is right now:

• America is dealing with a pandemic that has shown no signs of abating. It has already claimed more than 146,000 deaths in the US and the country now accounts for over a quarter of all infections worldwide. Meanwhile President Donald Trump has been – until very recently – largely dismissive of the pandemic, politicizing and downplaying it in a way that not only sowed more division, but contributed to the federal government’s colossal failure to contain its spread.

• A video captured on a Minneapolis street corner on Memorial Day documented a police officer holding his knee on the neck of George Floyd until he lost consciousness and died, sparking nationwide protests that forced the most significant national conversation about race and policing since the Civil Rights era. President Trump has used the protests – which called for police reform and the removal of racist Confederate symbols – as a cover for sending in paramilitary-style troops to arrest demonstrators he says are “anarchists.” He has since threatened to send in as many as 75,000 federal officers to large (read: “Democratic”) cities in coming weeks.

• The President and his obsequious Justice Department as well as his personal lawyers have gone to extreme lengths to stymie free speech – in particular any speech that happens to be critical of Trump. Not only have they attempted to block recent tell-all books by White House insiders and a Trump family member, but the DOJ actually remanded a former Trump associate to prison after he had already been furloughed, allegedly to prevent him from completing a tell-all book slated to publish this fall before a judge reversed the order.

• In an act of brazen cronyism, the President commuted the prison sentence of his longtime political ally Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering during the Trump campaign-Russia investigation.

Enough already? We haven’t even gotten to Trump’s efforts to escalate tensions with China by shutting down a consulate in Houston last week, much less his attacks on voting by mail or his complete disinterest in countering foreign attempts to once again meddle in the election.

Did we mention his public reluctance to commit to accepting the results of the election in November? It has raised fears he might possibly refuse to leave office, as his former lawyer Michael Cohen has predicted.

Americans must understand that in this election, not only is Trump’s political future in jeopardy, but his financial and legal ones are as well. Trump knows that once he gives up the power of the presidency, he will certainly be subjected to a barrage of official inquiries into his taxes, campaign contributions, allegations of self-dealing and of obstruction of justice.

It’s reasonable to assume Trump will stop at no political malfeasance to stay in power, and that’s why Americans of all political persuasions need to be especially vigilant over the next 100 days. Of course, the easiest way for Trump to stay in power is to win the election, but with various recent polls giving Joe Biden a double-digit lead, the President has an uphill battle.

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    Americans have to be alert for possible tricks like concocted allegations against Joe Biden, meddling with the Postal Service in the name of combatting mail-in “voter fraud,” deploying federal agents in Democratic strongholds to guarantee “ballot box security” while intimidating and suppressing turnout, declaring emergency powers around the election and launching an overseas military assault, knowing that the American public tends to rally around the president during times of war.

    A lot will happen in the next 100 days and Americans need to be vigilant; the great American experiment in democracy is – perhaps for the first time since the Civil War – really at stake. Will the US return to a vibrant democracy under a President Joe Biden? Or see the further erosion of democracy under a re-elected President Trump?

    Keep your eyes peeled, America.