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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Donald Trump has a winning message if he would only use it

Because politics is always such a messy business, we shouldn’t be surprised when people take it personally. After all, whomever you favor to run the country or even your local schoolboard says a lot about who you are as a person because such choices reflect your value system.

But this year, for some reason, the normal bitterness associated with politics seems to have taken a giant leap forward into blind hatred and rage for some folks. Friends have become enemies in the process and there isn’t Trump supportersa whole lot people seem to agree upon these days other than we’re all pretty divided and the system isn’t working.

However, just because that level of uneasiness has reached its apex is no reason to wish ill on someone. Reasonable minds can differ…can’t they?

Apparently leading #NeverTrumper Erick Erickson doesn’t put a lot of stock in differences of opinion.

In a post entitled, “Donald Trump Can Go to Hell and If You Defend His Statement, So Can You,” Erickson writes, “I must apologize, but I have reached that point with this news and it now pushes me beyond contempt into outright hatred and moral indignation against those of you continuing to defend this monster.

“That is Donald Trump asking if NATO countries ‘have paid’ if they want American protection from a potential Russian invasion.”

Erickson then proceeds to sing the praises of NATO, including an impassioned claim that NATO defended us and our interests around the world in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

He continues, “Donald Trump wants to turn NATO into a damn shakedown scheme and you people are cheering him on. You should be ashamed of yourselves. You should be ashamed of the fact that your cult leader who claims to have been personally affected by 9/11 does not even know our NATO allies protected his ass that day. You should be ashamed that he wants to turn one of the strongest military alliances in the history of the world into a racket where protection is bought. You should be ashamed that you are not ashamed.”

I’m actually not ashamed…so I guess I’m part of the group Erickson thinks should go to…you know where.

His post actually gets marginally worse in tone from that point on, but you get the idea. Erickson thinks if we don’t support NATO in its current form, as Trump doesn’t, then we’re all being excommunicated from his good graces.

After all this time, I’m not shocked by Erickson’s words, though I’m a little taken aback by his staunch defense of NATO as the reason why we folks who have professed a preference for Trump over Crooked Hillary should journey to the nether region.

I think most sane people – and certainly the ones I’ve spoken with on this particular issue – almost universally believe the U.S. role in funding NATO has to change. With a national debt nearing $19.5 trillion, America simply cannot afford to be footing the biggest portion of the bill for protecting European allies that no longer face the same kind of threat that existed before the organization was founded.

And the same is true for our Asian allies as well.

Our colleague Doug Bandow said it well. In a piece entitled, “Why are America’s Allies so Persistently Pathetic?” Bandow wrote, “Washington’s allies generally are a pathetic lot. Benefiting from sizeable and capable populations and enjoying large and advanced economies, they nevertheless can’t be bothered to invest heavily in their own defense.

“When troubles arise U.S. friends expect the American cavalry… to arrive. As a result, the U.S. is expected to defend much of the globe. And the bulk of Washington’s over-size military outlays are to project power for the benefit of its ne’er-do-well allies.

“In the years ahead Washington should take a page from the Trump play-book and choose as allies a few ‘winners,’ nations whose friendship actually makes America more secure. The U.S. should stop treating national security as a form of welfare for other states.”

Welfare for other states is precisely what NATO has devolved into. Pat Buchanan has warned on numerous occasions that America risks war with Russia due to its commitment to defending tiny nation states half a world away that have little or no connection to our own security. What for?

And for failing to defend NATO in its present form, Erickson thinks we should go to…you-know-where?

It appears as though Erickson has gone from merely condemning Trump and his inner circle to attacking anyone who supports the Republican nominee. Even with polls showing Trump sinking a bit of late, that still translates to around 40 percent of the country.

When you’re running a business – especially one that is irrevocably tied to Republican and conservative politics – it’s not a good idea to tell the vast majority of your potential readers/customers to head to the center of the earth and remember to bring plenty of burn gauze.

People may still click and they may still read Erickson’s publication, but they’re not going to pay for his advertising that ultimately supports himself and his family.

(Ironically enough, Erickson solicited donations in a different post yesterday.)

It’s safe to say, this year’s election has frustrated all of us. The primaries were extremely contentious, the gaping wounds haven’t healed and Republicans have a candidate in Trump who simply will not play by the rules of typical decorum – which makes some people awful mad.

Add the heinous nature of Crooked Hillary and the stakes involved in this election and you’ve got a cauldron full of angst bubbling just below the surface, ready to erupt at any time. Unfortunately for Erickson, it looks as though he’s losing it.

If we can’t discuss issues like funding NATO in a civil way, what CAN we talk about?

It’s time people started focusing on what comes after Election Day in November. Hopefully most of us won’t actually be in you-know-where at that time and we can begin the process of not only healing, but moving forward with a new policy direction in this country.

I for one am looking forward to that day.

Why can’t Republicans simply say they support their nominee?

If the anti-Trump fervor was merely confined to the ranks of #NeverTrump, I wouldn’t necessarily be as concerned about the possibility of healing going forward – but it’s not.

The post Democrat convention Republican blow-up appears to have reached all corners of the GOP, causing just about everyone to worry whether this might be the beginning of a total collapse.

W. James Antle III of the Washington Examiner writes, “The rest of the Republican Party is not blameless in all this. You can get annoyed when Trump wants to pick fights with random people rather than discuss weak economic reports, shady side deals to the Iran nuclear agreement, Clinton's ongoing disingenuousness about her private email server or the renewed U.S. bombing in Libya. Yet Trump's lukewarm GOP supporters do much the same thing, except choosing to weigh in against their own candidate.

“Many Republicans want to have it both ways on Trump. They want to distance the party's brand from his more offensive or controversial statements but they also want him to beat Clinton. This sounds good in theory and I've long argued conservatives should have a more transactional relationship with Republican politicians.”

But it doesn’t work that way. When asked about Trump, for example, Paul Ryan shouldn’t say, “Oh, I disagree with him on his statements concerning Muslims and immigration policy, but he’s better than Hillary Clinton, so I’m voting for him.”

And I’m not even sure John McCain even went so far as to say he’ll vote for Trump (though I believe he did).

Failing to fully back the party nominee is a uniquely Republican ailment that started well before Trump and is not confined to the party’s presidential candidates. Democrats are largely immune from this disease, though it certainly looks like some Bernie Sanders supporters won’t go for Clinton this year.

The Republican Party is so dysfunctional because it doesn’t have an ideological base (no matter what the media says, it is not a conservative party). Whereas the Democrats have all unified around the concept of socialism, big government regulation of the economy, universal welfare benefits, unmitigated open borders immigration, abortion on demand and the radical leftist social agenda, Republicans break into small factions on various issues and don’t seem willing to compromise with other groups to form a cohesive whole.

Take for instance most if not all Republicans agree that Obamacare is bad for the country but are unable to settle on tactics to accomplish its repeal. On one extreme there’s Ted Cruz who was willing to shut down the government to defund Obamacare. On the other side, Republican leaders negotiated until they were blue in the face but capitulated in the end, terrified of a potential voter backlash whenever a government entitlement goodie is revoked.

The Democrats knew all along the Republicans would cave; that’s why they were willing to hold out so long. Party unity is a huge weapon in the fight to “fundamentally transform America.”

I think Republicans can’t agree on a way to move forward this election because most of them are terrified of change. Make no mistake, the current crisis surrounding Trump is a two-pronged attack being executed by the Washington establishment and the disgruntled small band of conservatives/Republicans that call themselves #NeverTrump.

There’s a remarkable shortsightedness from both groups that threatens to bring down the entire country.

Trump can help himself and the cause of unity by agreeing to stick to his message. If he doesn’t, everyone will just keep pounding on each other…and Hillary will win.

Trump’s unpredictability could ultimately work in his favor with a little self-discipline

Of course the big question in all of this is whether Donald Trump actually can stick to a message. For a man who gives himself so much credit for inserting issues into this year’s election, he hasn’t proven he can adhere to any kind of self-discipline to champion them.

Trump’s just about the least predictable entity out there, which makes his most ardent supporters happy but terrifies a lot of people who would otherwise be running and screaming away from Crooked Hillary.

Because of Trump’s unpredictability, Victor Davis Hanson says the Republican nominee is the first post-modern presidential candidate. Hanson writes in National Review, “The public is growing tired of two realities: the one they see and hear each day, and the official version that has nothing to do with their perceptions.

“Trump comes along with a ball and chain and throws it right into the elite filtering screen — and the public cheers as the fragile glass explodes.

“If most politicians are going to deceive, voters apparently prefer raw and uncooked deception rather than the usual seasoned and spiced dishonesty.”

There’s no question Trump is one of a kind and writes his own rules when it comes to campaigning. As a lifelong business negotiator, his main strategy has always been to keep the opposition off balance.

The main problem Republicans are having with Trump is his penchant for keeping party members off balance instead of Crooked Hillary and the Democrats. And it’s not just those in the stuffy party establishment that are upset; principled conservatives such as Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are having just as much trouble with Trump as the party bluebloods like Jeb Bush.

But as hinted at above, I think this problem offers its own solution. Since Trump loves keeping everyone guessing, all he really needs to do is practice some self-discipline when dealing with Republicans while remaining on the attack against Clinton and the Democrats.

Much as it is merited, criticizing someone like Mitch McConnell isn’t going to win Trump any more votes than he already has; but nurturing the seeds of doubt on Hillary will eventually bear fruit, especially since she’s already so unpopular and there’s plenty to talk about.

Trump can have his own way and still win.

Trump raising the money necessary to compete in the fall

Finally this week, a bit of good news for Donald Trump.

For months, Trump’s detractors have been criticizing him for lackluster fundraising. Well for July at least, the Republican nominee did nearly as well as Crooked Hillary.

Nicholas Confessore and Nick Corasaniti of the New York Times report, “Donald J. Trump all but erased his enormous fund-raising disadvantage against Hillary Clinton in the span of just two months, according to figures released by his campaign on Wednesday, converting the passion of his core followers into a flood of small donations on a scale rarely seen in national politics.

“Mr. Trump and the Republican National Committee raised $64 million through a joint digital and mail effort in July, according to his campaign, the bulk of it from small donations. All told, Mr. Trump and his party brought in $82 million last month, only slightly behind Mrs. Clinton’s $90 million, and ended with $74 million on hand, suggesting he might now have the resources to compete with Mrs. Clinton in the closing stretch of the campaign.”

What’s even better than the dollar totals is the fact much of it came from small donors, which is always a good measure of strength with the grassroots. The article states that more than two-thirds of the $64 million figure was raised online.

Motivated people contribute their hard earned money willingly and don’t require slick schmaltzy fundraising events to cut checks.

That’s not to say big money donors aren’t important; but the more you can raise from The People themselves, the better off you will be.

So while the establishment may continue to whine and moan about Trump and the #NeverTrumpers may want to consign his supporters to you-know-where, Trump is actually doing a lot of the things candidates are supposed to be doing.

And if he’s able to tighten up his message and stop generating such huge waves of negative publicity, he’ll be one heck of a force to reckon with in November.

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Erick Erickson and the "neverTrumpers"

More evidence that Erick Erickson is as unhinged from reality in his way as the Washington Menshevik Establishment is in its way. Is he really worth commenting on any more? I'm at the point where I just delete without reading any emails with "redstate" or his name on them. Yes, I worked for Ted Cruz too, but he's no longer an option. We must deal with the world as it is.