The scariest thing about President Donald Trump’s handling of his election loss is not the strain it places on America’s democracy but that it could spark the economic downfall of the United States, analysts have warned.
The warning comes as key Republicans increasingly back away from Mr Trump and his unsubstantiated claims the US election result was somehow rigged.
A growing cohort of GOP veterans are speaking out against Mr Trump, with many calling for him to officially concede.
The calls from Republicans for Mr Trump to officially concede come at the end of a week where his team doubled down on the attempt to overturn the results of the election.
They were blocked by state judges in Arizona, Pennsylvania and a federal judge in Georgia, a state which also fell officially to President-elect Joe Biden, for the second time.
Another plan to pressure state legislators was dealt a blow when two leading Republican lawmakers from Michigan said, after a meeting with Mr Trump, that they had no information to change the outcome of the election in the state.
“(As) legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors,” Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House of Representatives Speaker Lee Chatfield said in a joint statement.
Former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney ripped into Mr Trump in a statement this week, calling the President’s actions ‘undemocratic’.
“Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the President has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election,” Mr Romney said.
“It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President.”
His call was backed up by other Republican heavyweights including Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who urged Mr Trump to ensure a smooth transition.
“The Trump Administration should provide the Biden team with all transition materials, resources, and meetings necessary to ensure a smooth transition so that both sides are ready on day one. That especially should be true, for example, on vaccine distribution,” Senator Alexander said.
But there is one key similarity with those speaking out – they can’t be troubled by Mr Trump’s base, said US election analyst and ANU professor Wesley Widmaier.
“Mitt Romney is a unique figure. He is a former presidential nominee, and he is incredibly respected in his state. He’s an elder figure in the Mormon church. He has no worry Trump could every threaten him,” Professor Widmaier said.
“Lamar Alexander has been in power for 30 years and is retiring.”
Many Republicans won’t publicly denounce Mr Trump’s behaviour because they don’t want to lose voters, Professor Widmaier said.
“In the short run, in Georgia, there are two runoff elections in two weeks that will determine who rules in the Senate. The Democrats have to get both of them to have the Senate be 50-50, with Kamala Harris then breaking any ties,” he explained.
“If the Republicans get any one of them Mitch McConnell will be Senate leader. “
The more pressing issue, though, is not Mr Trump’s failed bid to overturn Mr Biden’s win, but his refusal to allow his administration to co-operate with Mr Biden’s transition team, Professor Widmaier said.
“The bigger thing is the breakdown of economic governance. There won’t be a COVID-19 stimulus package,” he said.
The hope that Congress would provide more needed coronavirus relief is fading, as Senate Republicans continue to resist large spending measures, and pressure from Mr Trump to take action has waned.
“The economic stuff is as serious as the democracy stuff,” Professor Widmaier said.
“They’re sabotaging the economic relief packages and asking the federal reserve to shut down funding while coronavirus is getting worse.
Why would any sane person shut off economic relief packages?”
It is important for Australians to take heed because the US is often looked at as the ‘locomotive’ in the global economy, Professor Widmaier said.
“Salting the earth on coronavirus by not allowing the Biden transition team into work, by not passing fiscal packages, by undermining the federal reserve – these are all things that, come January 20 when Trump is gone, will impact the Biden administration’s effectiveness.”