Conventional wisdom holds that those challenging the Death Star forces of the establishment suffered huge losses in the primaries last week. As someone who spent most of her adult life on the inside of politics, I have a different take. Anyone who has lived on the inside – straddling the line between the establishment and grassroots politics in either party – knows better, too.

Teddy Roosevelt put it best.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

– From the speech “Citizenship in a Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, on April 23, 1910

Primary races are the building blocks for revolution. In a representative republic, peaceful revolutions don’t happen overnight. They take time, and they take strategic planning.

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The races this week were a huge step in a revolutionary direction.

Here’s why.

Years before Dr. Ben Carson took off his lab coat and challenged the president, Dr. Milton Wolf, the Kansas physician known as Barack Obama’s cousin, emerged from the surgery rooms to become an eloquent favorite at tea-party gatherings across the nation. He showed phenomenal leadership when he put it all on the line to become a candidate for the United States Senate. Like so many other courageous patriots across this land, while he lost the election, that was just one battle in the bigger war. Focused rebels make tremendous gains in these wars of attrition.

1) You build an organization. Activists meet each other on the campaign, and build the apparatus for the next conservative, or for the next time that candidate runs again. How many “new best friends” have you met at the rallies and campaign events?

2)  You force the enemy to spread their forces. Incumbents with serious challengers must stay in their own districts. Without opponents, incumbents are free to reinforce other establishment candidates across the country.

3) Primaries are a powerful tool. The word “primary” has become a verb. All incumbents prefer not to have opposition, but the worst opposition happens when you discover you got “primaried.” This is what happens to politicians when they stray too far from their party platform. It is a tool at the disposal of loyal oppositions in both parties. The conservatives with the spine to enter these races send a message to all establishment candidates: You could be next.

4) You create seasoned warriors. In any campaign, all kinds of activists are given real campaign experience. Many will take that experience and new connections made to help other campaigns, become staffers or candidates themselves one day.

5) It’s your civic duty to engage. Political campaigns are a gift from our Founding Fathers. While people in half the world have little opportunity for serious engagement and many of those who do face violence for the activism, 99 percent of us never face serious physical threats for our participation. Instead of staying home, sincere candidates give us real opportunities to go out and exercise our franchise. They clarify their own vision, isolate their target and remind us of our responsibility to join the fight to return power to the grassroots people in the party.

Our republic desperately needs loyal oppositions teeming with activists willing to challenge the powers that be in government.

I was on the inside of politics with my husband when he was a state representative and then senator in our home state of Missouri for 14 years. I watched the establishment in both parties cuss like sailors when they knew their reliables were “primaried.” They hate it for all of the reasons I listed above, but in addition to that it insults their big egos. It makes them uncomfortable, and it means they can’t run roughshod over the platforms of the parties they claim to represent.

I write a lot on the importance of party platforms for Republicans but also for Democrats. It is interesting to compare these platforms to platforms of the past, as they illuminate both the changing and even never-changing battles. I see the issue of platform fidelity to be so critical that I included the issue in a whole chapter in our new book, “What Women Really Want.” The chapter called “Platforms and Stilettos” explains how one person can rock the entire establishment boat by throwing their own oar in the water. They hate it! And that is the fun part! Both parties want to put out these grandiose visions to satisfy their party base activists, but then they express utter disdain for them when it comes to placating their party elite by recruiting candidates who show disregard and utter contempt for their own party positions. How cynical!

Whether our candidates win or lose, the gains made and contributions to the greater efforts by serious campaigns bear fruit for years to come. These are the heroes of this election cycle, and I am honored every cycle to jump in, to help and be even a tiny blip on the screen of the civil revolution we are building. Lest anyone ever doubt it, these races were not in vain. These campaigns are brushfires of liberty lighting a fire for freedom across this great land.

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