In conversations over the last several months with chief executives and other business leaders, the discussion invariably turns to the presidential election. And with few exceptions, at some point, most of the executives say something critical, even derogatory, about Donald Trump — but it is quickly followed by, "I could never say that on the record."
Almost as quickly, I ask why. The answer is almost universal: fear.
Unlike many of his peers, Mr. Hoffman has taken to publicly decrying Mr. Trump. Last week, he pledged to donate $5 million to a veterans' group if Mr. Trump released his tax returns before the last presidential debate in October.
And now he has gone so far as to release a card game, "Trumped Up Cards: The World's Biggest Deck" that pokes fun at Mr. Trump. The website that sells the game describes it as "a multiplayer card game where players need really big hands to win."
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The game, which is modeled after "Apples to Apples" or "Cards Against Humanity," includes a free pass called, "Play the women card" and uses the tagline: "This is a game, democracy isn't." The box, in tiny print, says, "Made in China, just like Trump-branded ties, dress shirts, suits, cuff links, eyeglasses, pens, lamps, mirrors, salad bowls, body soap and teddy bears."
But Mr. Hoffman said he almost didn't make his political views — and the card game — so public because he worried, as did his family and friends (who originally counseled him against it), that he might become a target for Mr. Trump and his Twitter account — or worse.
"People are fearful that, especially in a circumstance where he might be in a position of extreme power as a potential presidential candidate, that that would be used in a retaliatory way, that would be used in vengeful way," Mr. Hoffman told me in an interview. "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."
Mr. Hoffman continued: "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."