The Presidential Persuasion Pardon
The Presidential Persuasion Pardon
April 5, 2016
I don’t expect this to happen. So consider it a thought experiment in persuasion.
Let’s say Donald Trump promises that when he gets elected President he will pardon Hillary Clinton of any future convictions regarding her email server situation. I’m sure he could come up with a plausible reason for the promise, such as healing and uniting the country and whatnot. And let’s say he makes the promise often and convincingly, so you start to think he means it. Maybe he even puts it in writing and has it notarized. That gives him a piece of paper to wave around when he talks about it. Trump likes to keep his persuasion visual, as in “The wall,” because visual persuasion (including imagined images) is the strongest.
The news would go nuts over the pardon idea because it is funny. Social media would erupt for the same reason. Trump likes to control the news cycle, so it works on that level. But that isn’t reason enough to do it.
A promise of a presidential pardon also makes everyone “think past the sale” and imagine Trump as president and Clinton as a convicted criminal. Trump likes to use that particular persuasion trick a lot. So it works on that dimension too.
But the biggest potential benefit for Trump would be in how Clinton acted after his promise of a pardon. Obviously she would brush it off as ridiculous and continue saying there is no risk of prosecution.
But there is a risk. My non-lawyer understanding (based on listening to a well-informed lawyer on C-SPAN) is that the simple existence of the server is a serious crime because it had no other use but secrecy. The classifications of the emails (the issue you hear on the news) is a total misdirection from the real problem. But let’s say the risk to Clinton is not 100%. Let’s put it at 30% just for discussion.
In the Moist Robot* world of persuasion, a 30% risk of prosecution would start to weigh on Clinton’s subconscious. The likely outcome – assuming she believed Trump’s pardon offer was legitimate – would be to start subconsciously sabotaging her own campaign so she can get the pardon.
I know you don’t believe that.
But keep in mind that people are more influenced by the threat of loss than the potential for gain. Clinton wants to be president but her desire to avoid prosecution is probably higher. In any event, the subconscious has a way of steering you away from danger whether you like it or not.
The way such a thing would play out in the real world is that Clinton would start making normal-looking “mistakes” that doom her candidacy. The mistakes would not be intentional, per se. They would be the result of her own brain sabotaging her campaign as a way of protecting her.
Obviously science has never tested the exact situation I am describing. So I can’t know for sure how things would play out. But generally speaking, your brain will steer you away from danger in clever ways even if you don’t want it to. All Trump would need to do is provide a safe harbor and Clinton would start drifting toward it without any conscious effort.
As I said above, I don’t expect Trump to promise a pardon. But if he does, expect to see a lot of “mistakes” in the Clinton campaign soon after.
For the benefit of new readers, I’m a trained hypnotists and a student of persuasion. My interest is in Trump’s persuasion skills, not his policies.
*To better understand the Moist Robot view of the world, in which humans have a UIX that can be programmed, see my book.