I am a conservative Republican, but I didn’t start out that way.

I was raised as a Democrat. I was taught that Harry Truman was the greatest president ever because he was strong, stood up to the communists, and most important, he was from Missouri. I was taught to stand up for the little guy, and that bigger government was the best way to do that. I registered to vote as a Democrat, and several years ago some Democrats even tried to recruit me to run for Congress.

There was one rather large problem. As I got older, I no longer believed in their ideas. Even worse, I had concluded that liberals aren’t just wrong. All too often they are world-class hypocrites. They talk a great game about helping the most vulnerable, with ideas that feel good and fashionable. The problem is their ideas don’t work, and often hurt the exact people they claim to help.

After four tours of duty as a Navy SEAL officer, I came home from Iraq and watched the VA – the second-biggest bureaucracy in the country – fail my friends. The VA was broken and my friends were suffering. And yet, time and again, the only “solution” I heard from liberals was to spend more money. It made me angry.

I became a conservative because I believe that caring for people means more than just spending taxpayer money; it means delivering results. It means respecting and challenging our citizens, telling them what they need to hear, not simply what they want to hear.

It’s not that I doubted their intentions. But good intentions are easy. Even easier when you’re spending other people’s money. But they’re not enough. To actually achieve meaningful results, you have to have good ideas, discipline and accountability to go along with it. The problem is that most Democrats seem to think more money and bigger government are the solutions to virtually every single problem. They’re wrong.

It’s easy to give people food stamps; harder to get people into good-paying jobs. It’s easy to encourage dependency; harder to help people into a life of purpose and dignity. The worst are politicians who smugly talk about caring for the little guy, and then abandon the poorest, most vulnerable of our children to schools that give them little chance to succeed. That’s not just hypocrisy. It’s a tragedy.

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I became a conservative because I believe that caring for people means more than just spending taxpayer money; it means delivering results. It means respecting and challenging our citizens, telling them what they need to hear, not simply what they want to hear.  

I am not a career politician. I’ve never run for office, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. In fact, the political world is still a very foreign place to me. But I believe Missouri is heading the wrong direction, and I don’t trust the career politicians who created this mess to fix it.   

So what would I do? I believe in limited but effective government. I believe in replacing ObamaCare with something that actually works. I believe in putting working families and job creation ahead of special interests. I believe that in a free society we have to defend religious liberties and the 2nd Amendment, and protect innocent life, so everyone has the freedom to pursue happiness. I believe in reforming welfare, so every person can have a chance at a life of dignity, purpose, and meaning. And I believe America’s public schools should be the best in the world.

In other words, I believe we have a lot of work to do.

I was raised to stand up for the little guy, for working families and the middle class. I am committed to that principle today more than ever. And if I thought the Democratic Party had the right ideas to do that, I’d still be one of them. But they don’t. And if I trusted career politicians to fix the problems they created, I’d still be standing on the sidelines. But I don’t.

As Americans, we deserve much better than what we’re getting from our government. We don’t need more rhetoric. We want results. And that means changing politics as usual, which won’t be easy. But nothing worthwhile ever is. You have to fight for what you believe in, and I, for one, have never backed down from that kind of fight.

Eric Greitens is a former Navy SEAL, Rhodes Scholar, humanitarian and decorated combat veteran. He is the author of the book "Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life. He lives in St. Louis with his family. Greitens is a Missouri native and is currently considering running for governor of the state of Missouri.