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Donald Trump: The Great Intimidator

Written By | Mar 18, 2016

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2016 — To intimidate someone is to frighten or threaten that person into doing something he or she does not wish to do.

Donald Trump is intimidating almost everyone.

In the 1970’s, Robert Ringer wrote a book, Winning Through Intimidation, in which he explained how people behave when intimidated and how people can actually win debates, confrontations or negotiations by intimidating their opponents. Sometimes it is difficult to tell when a person is being intimidated, but sometimes it is easy.

Trump has used intimidation to help himself become successful in business. For instance, when negotiating to buy a property, Trump would offer a ridiculously low price. The seller would be offended, then out of fear of being stuck with too low a price, would respond with a counter-offer above the offer, but well below what the seller would have wanted.

By frightening sellers with low offer prices, Trump would get them to do something they would not normally do. That is, severely compromise on the price. The seller was intimidated.

Trump is still using that tactic with campaign opponents and the GOP.

The media do not like Trump and do not want to see him elected. They would prefer not to give Trump any coverage or free publicity. But because of Trump’s attention-grabbing actions, the media, fearful of missing a big story, are themselves intimidated and end up giving Trump coverage worth more than $400 million by some estimates.

The Republican establishment is intimidated. Always showing solidarity once the party selects a candidate, the establishment is so fearful of a Trump candidacy that they are discussing breaking away from the party if Trump is nominated. This is something that they clearly do not want to do and likely won’t, but they think about it because they are intimidated.

They should be. There is a strong anti-establishment sentiment among a majority of Americans. They are fed up with a Democratic administration that has not delivered on promises and has proved less than truthful. They are also fed up with the Republican do-nothing Congress. As a result, everything the establishment does to stop Trump makes him stronger, as voters express their anti-establishment position and move to support Trump.

The softer side of Donald Trump

Even the Democratic candidates are intimidated. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders spend their time talking about Trump rather than about the issues that excite Democrats—reducing income inequality, raising the minimum wage, providing paid maternity leave and relieving the student debt burden.

How about the other two Republican candidates? Ted Cruz wants to discuss his policies which he says are the most conservative of any of the candidates. He wants to discuss his flat-tax policy and the repeal of Obamacare. Instead he has been intimidated into discussing Trump’s positions and criticizing some of Trump’s outrageous comments. Ted Cruz is being intimidated.

Trump has intimidated John Kasich. All through the debates and the campaigning through almost 30 states, Kasich refused to attack front-runner Trump. He watched as Rubio and Cruz pounded Trump during the debates. Kasich refused to even answer questions about Trump. He wanted to focus on his positive policy positions and to show voters why he was the best candidate.

Now he has taken action he would not normally take. Although he repeatedly said he wouldn’t discuss Trump, he is spending time doing just that. He is tweeting that Trump can’t use “unacceptable language,” claiming “a true leader urges peaceful debate over violence.” John Kasich has been intimidated by Trump.

The result sought by intimidators is that people they intimidate are moved to take actions they would not normally take. By intimating almost everyone, Trump is appealing to a great many voters, even those who swore they would never vote for Trump. Through intimidation, he expects these people to do something they may not want to do: vote for Donald Trump.

Michael Busler

Michael Busler, Ph.D. is a public policy analyst and a Professor of Finance at Stockton University where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Finance and Economics. He has written Op-ed columns in major newspapers for more than 35 years.