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At primary election time, the Republican Party establishment always discourages the very same patriots whose votes it feels entitled to every general election. But for the America First right, entering the arena is now a matter of political survival.

Everybody knows President Donald J. Trump woke a sleeping giant in 2015 and 2016. There’s further evidence of an awakening and political realignment since the upset victory in Virginia’s gubernatorial race earlier this month.

From immigration to education, more and more Americans are realizing just how much of their country and its institutions are out of their control and actually being used against them.

Such issues are driving together the forces of populism, nationalism, and America First traditional conservatism. They appear to be eclipsing the grand narratives of the left such as Black Lives Matter, Build Back Better/the Great Reset, Green New Deal, etc. among the electorate.

Facing Joe Biden’s abysmal approval rating, non-delusional Democrats know their days are numbered as the majority ruling party in Congress.

This seemingly positive environment is missing one element, however. What truly stands in the way of the people’s recapturing of their country is not some leftist street mob or even well-heeled leftists in power.

It’s the GOP establishment that will move mountains of cash and influence to undermine the legitimate demands of the grassroots.

They will use fear to implore challengers not to rise up against their incumbents.

“Do you want to weaken the Republican candidate and end up with a Democrat winning?” is one common talking point.

Never give in to that. There are exceptionally few good Republicans in office who don’t require a primary opponent.

One high-profile race that does help illustrate the divide between the establishment and the grassroots wings is in Texas’ 12th congressional district.

Congresswoman Kay Granger, the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, is being challenged by conservative Chris Putnam. In fact, this is one of five cases where the Republican incumbent is being outdone in fundraising by their opponent of the same party.

Granger has held this office largely unopposed since 1997. In that time, what has she fought for?

Granger’s lauded for spurring development of the F-35 fighter jet, the epitome of government boondoggles and cronyism. The most extravagant weapons program ever, costing some $1.5 trillion, it’s infamous for embarrassing failures throughout its development.

Manufacturing of the F-35 takes place across 45 states, politically convenient for Lockheed Martin which relies on government contracting for an overwhelming majority of its profits. What politician dares cut a program that costs their district or state jobs?

Granger, however, didn’t spur any development of a border wall, certainly not before Trump forced the issue in his presidential campaign.

Thankfully, there’s Putnam to challenge her on this issue. And the border wall is “just step one,” he told me.

“We need to halt the incentives that bring illegals here. Stopping free education and healthcare for illegals are paramount. Billions of Texas taxpayer dollars are being used to subsidize these fields, which are expensive for actual American citizens,” he said.

She’s nowhere to be found on the January 6 defendants, except parroting FBI talking points early on.

“The lack of due process for the January 6th prisoners would make King George proud,” Putnam told me. “The apparent human rights abuses and undermining civil liberties should scare all Americans.”

Granger quarantined herself after a positive Covid test and refused to proxy vote against the second sham impeachment trial against Trump. But she finds courage to fight for Israel’s Iron Dome?

Maybe Granger can make a reasonable case for funding the F-35 for giant contractors or the Iron Dome for Israel. But where are the priorities? Where’s the same urgency for America First policies?

There are many GOP establishment types like this who need to be made to listen to the grassroots’ demands in a primary election. Win or lose, primaries can advance the right agenda.

Beyond all other elections, the primaries in 2022 are the arena for America Firsters. If they don’t enter this arena fully intent on winning, there likely will not be another opportunity at such a mass scale.

President Teddy Roosevelt’s words in his famous “Man in the Arena” speech are worth our rumination:

“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 the 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.”

Gavin Wax

Gavin M. Wax is a New York-based conservative political activist, commentator, columnist, operative, and strategist. He is the Executive Director of the National Constitutional Law Union. He also serves as the 76th President of the New York Young Republican Club and as an Ambassador for both Turning Point USA & Live Action. He is co-authoring an upcoming book entitled 'The Emerging Populist Majority.' You can follow him on Twitter at @GavinWax.