The Art of the Bully

All the king’s threats and all the king’s ultimatums couldn’t put this humpty-dumpty of a healthcare bill back together again. As of 4 p.m. Friday afternoon House Republicans scrapped the American Health Care Act, aka Trumpcare, after House Speaker Paul Ryan made a hasty trip to the White House to inform Donald Trump that they just didn’t have the votes.

It looks like endless threats and ultimatums weren’t enough to overcome poor planning, the evisceration of medical benefits, and the steadfast determination of an electorate that called, wrote, emailed and even faxed their pleas to save the Affordable Care Act to their elected officials. In the end, the Republicans decided to save themselves from embarrassment, and save members in divided districts from losing re-election, by not allowing the bill go to a vote.

The magnitude of the bullying involved with the ACHA has been mind boggling. Trump’s last-minute visit yesterday to the conservative Freedom Caucus included forcing chair Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) to stand and declaring, “I’m going to come after you” because “honestly, a loss is not acceptable.” This is how bullies—not talented businesspeople—cut deals: through threats and false promises.

The Republicans tried to make excuses for Trump’s behavior or laugh it off, but the Democrats weren’t having it. U.S. News & World Report quoted House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer as saying, "When Trump threatens people, he usually means it. I see no reason to believe he was kidding… that was a threat, not a wink and a nod."

In the end, credit goes to Americans who are resisting Trump. In my book, From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire, I devoted a chapter to how people can fight back against bullying in the workplace. The most important thing to know is not to try to do it alone. You need allies who will support you and back you up. Today the American people and the caring members of Congress teamed up to resist the gutting of the ACA. None of the bullying made a difference.  Perhaps Press Secretary Sean Spicer put it best when he told the press, “At the end of the day, you can’t force somebody to do something. At the end of the day, this isn’t a dictatorship.”

Let’s hold him to that. This is just one victory, but resisting tyranny is never a race—it’s a marathon. Rest up. We have a lot more work to do.

Photo credit: Associated Press