Winning through intimidation
Published October 26, 2023
By Lib Campbell
Robert Ringer’s book, Winning Through Intimidation was released in 1976. The book was written as a lesson in strategies for resisting intimidation, offering steps for overcoming mental lapses that give intimidators the upper hand. Evidently, people stopped reading after the title because intimidation is rampant in America today.
Witness the debacle happening in the US House of Representatives. Screen shots and audio recordings of intimidating and threatening messages to the congressmen and families of those who did not vote for Jim Jordan point to a sickness that is beyond politics.
All of us have experienced intimidation. Small people use it as a tool of manipulation when they have no ideas, no vision, no moral compass. But intimidation is like cancer; it grows, and it kills.
The very idea that somebody, like Donald Trump, can be heralded for his constant intimidation and mocking is shocking. His behavior is not the posture of a statesman, or even a moral human being. Rather, it paints him as a fragile ego with no other tools in his toolbox but intimidation and demeaning. How did we get to this place? The screaming monkeys are flying and ready to dive into the fray.
When I need ballast, I read Fox News. Shockingly, there are voices on Fox saying, “We don’t need a bully as a Speaker of the House.” At some point the tinderbox that is America today will be met with a consensus of Republicans and Democrats who stand up to the bullies and intimidators, at least enough to save our Democracy.
In secret balloting, only 88 House members supported Jim Jordan - the others were against his leadership. When people could express themselves without retaliation, threat or harassment, they could speak and vote their truth.
Liz Cheney and Adam Kinsinger, Mitt Romney and Cassidy Hutchinson are ramping up the discourse on stopping the insanity of intimidation, sounding a call to return to a stability and purpose that has fueled the American Dream for over 200 years. The “more perfect union” is not yet achieved, but American Democracy is the greatest hope on earth, if we can stop the craziness.
We read Cassidy Hutchinson’s book, Enough. As she tells her story, she reveals anxieties as she is asked to do things that just don’t jibe with her moral conscience. When she finally decides that enough is enough, and agrees to testify before the January 6th Commission, she begins to feel the heat of threat from Trump world. A secret service detail was assigned to protect her. She still lives under threat.
One of the most important lessons of Cassidy’s story is her reading The Last of the President’s Men by Bob Woodward. Alexander Butterfield, who was an aide in the Nixon Whitehouse, became the truthteller in the Watergate hearings. After affirming that there were tapes of Nixon’s oval office conversations, Nixon’s presidency came tumbling down. Mr. Butterfield acknowledges that the American conversation, the heated language and threat, are different from 50 years ago when he came forward as a bearer of truth. But some things never change. There is corruption today. People are angry and manipulated by intimidators who stoke the flames of fury.
Cassidy Hutchinson, still a Republican, reached deep into her conscience and found a moral center that led her to speak truth. The world is made better by people like Butterfield and Hutchinson, who are led by their own integrity to stand up against wrongdoing.
No one should be afraid of speaking truth. No one needs to be scared to work the polls, tally the votes, or do any public service that benefits the democratic system. Yet, phone calls to public servants that threaten and harass are happening every day. People must have lost the mirrors in their homes. They can’t see the harm they are doing to people and institutions.
The absence of a moral compass, the void of integrity and the disregard of character have led to what is happening in America today. The influence of the Church may have waned, but, Lordy, we are so off track. I think we need a come-to-Jesus moment, or a come to Synagogue or daily prayers to Allah.
Intimidation is not a winning strategy. Know it for what it is; petty, small people attempting to push us around so they can have their way. Life does not need to work this way. Speak up, people. We have the power to correct this course.
Lib Campbell is a retired Methodist pastor, retreat leader, columnist and host of the blogsite www.avirtualchurch.com. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org