The attitudes of top executives would be more understandable if they centered on the issue of free trade, but they do not. Yes, big business has profited from past trade deals and backs new ones like the TPP and TTIP, which Trump promises to cancel. But Trump’s Democratic opponent and a majority of Congressional candidates from both parties have also joined the anti-trade bandwagon, so trade policy is in for a change no matter who wins this election. As Trump himself would say, there’s something else going on.
Trump the bully is one broader fear of the executive class. Sorkin quotes Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, who was one of the few willing to speak to him on the record:
People are fearful that, especially in a circumstance where he might be in a position of extreme power as a potential presidential candidate, that would be used in a retaliatory way, that would be used in vengeful way. Everyone gets worried about being attacked, and part of the logic and mechanics of bullies is that they cause people to be fearful that they’ll be singled out and attacked.
It’s the same thing like on school grounds, when people won’t go help the kid who is being bullied because they’re worried that the bully will focus on them.Yes, it is frightening to think about the ways a thin-skinned and vengeful President might misuse the office. The entanglement of corporations with government is such that there would be many opportunities to punish enemies. Taxes, regulations, and government contracts would be some of the most direct, but backdoor methods like planting rumors or leaking documents might be easier, and just as damaging. A President Trump might install a compliant security chief who would give him access to a company’s internal phone and email communications, encrypted or not. The tools at the disposal of a spiteful president would make something like closing a bridge look like a playground prank.