You and I have had a great conversation here in Minnesota for the better part of 25 years, so some of you may already know me as an independent voice, putting principle and policy ahead of partisan politics. But for those who don’t, let me tell you why I believe I’m best suited to represent Minnesota’s Second District in Congress.

I was raised in a small-business family, so I understand the struggles of meeting a payroll, balancing budgets and, frankly, wondering where the next customer might come from — and I understand the power of government.

You see, our family business was taken through the eminent domain process, so I, like so many of you, had to find a second career. I was fortunate enough to find one in broadcasting, and it worked out well.

But now I worry whether those types of opportunities will still be around for the next generation of Minnesotans — including my two daughters. Big government and special-interest policies have saddled our children with an unsustainable $19.5 trillion national debt, and in the process have priced them out of the health-care market, the housing market, the higher-education market and the good-paying-jobs market.

They have in many ways priced our children, my young daughters included, out of the American Dream.

Of course, if you like things the way they are — record high tax revenues but $600 billion federal budget deficits; the largest number of rules and regulations on the Federal Register since 1936; a disastrous health-care system that’s imploding right here before our eyes in Minnesota; an overreaching Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that if unchecked will kill thousands of jobs right here in our state — putting farmers out of business and our energy sector on the fringe; and open borders and dangerous refugee admissions — you can vote for my opponent. She supports the policies that have given us all of these things.

However, if you want change, real change — a simpler tax code, less spending and fewer job-killing regulations, replacing Obamacare with insurance that’s both affordable and portable, stopping EPA’s overreach, and a federal government that does its job of controlling who gets into this country and who doesn’t — well, I’m the independent leader who will fight for that kind of prosperous future.

But instead of talking about these legitimate differences in our respective campaigns, my opponent and her liberal surrogates, like Nancy Pelosi, George Soros and nearly every government union in Washington, have engaged in a scorched-earth negative campaign the likes of which the Second District has never seen.

And don’t just take my word for it.

Two local TV stations ran “truth tests” on the most vicious of attacks against me and found that my opponent’s ads were not only “without context,” but “with no or so little context that they mislead the viewer.”

The Rochester Post-Bulletin also said that “[Angie] Craig has frequently pointed to Lewis’s conservative comments on talk radio, but we note the audio clips her campaign uses have been proven to be out of context. The Lewis we spoke with is not the same one Craig would have us envision.”

The good citizens of the Second District should make certain that dishonesty of this magnitude is never rewarded. For it has been my experience that those who will do and say anything for power are usually the ones who can’t be trusted with it.

Today, there are two Americas. One for the politically connected — big labor, big business and big government — who are desperate for power, and one for the rest of us who have to pick up the tab.

For instance, the federal government now has more than 500,000 workers making over $100,000 per year — a whopping increase of more than 700 percent from just 66,000 in 2000. Someone, such as my opponent, who has the endorsement of the American Federation of Government Employees is not about to make government more efficient.

My opponent has been representing these powerful insiders for years by cutting Washington deals and doling out campaign cash for special interests as a chair of her company’s PAC. In fact, few people in the Second District were more influential behind the scenes in first getting Obamacare passed — and then getting the Obamacare tax on her industry repealed.

That’s pretty good work if you can get it. But most of us can’t.

And those are the folks I plan on fighting for. I spent my life in the private sector and will not support the pay-to-play cronyism that dominates Washington. I will fight for you.

I will support lower taxes and fewer regulations, a return to individual rights, private property, and the rule of law that benefits us all. I will also support the only document that stands between you and tyranny — the Constitution.

We are at a crossroads; we’ve got to go one way or another. We will either save the best part of the American Dream or we will leave to our children a country our ancestors wouldn’t recognize.

That’s why I’m asking for your vote on Nov. 8.

Jason Lewis is the Republican candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s Second District.