This commentary was prepared for KUT 90.5, the NPR affiliate in Austin. It can be heard online.

It’s been said to be born free is an accident, to live free is a responsibility and to die free an obligation.

Unfortunately, too many of us are shirking our responsibilities, dodging our obligations. This leads to the very real likelihood that the next generation of Americans will be born with fewer opportunities for personal liberty and economic growth.

We see this already: just look at how few people bother to participate in the political process. Less than 50 percent of eligible citizens register to vote. But more discouraging is how even fewer bother to educate themselves about the issues at hand, relying only on news bites and feelings.

It’s our cultural appetite for making political decisions based on emotional responses to incomplete facts that spells trouble for the future.

Indeed, this election cycle could well prove a pivotal moment in our state’s and nation’s history on what are easily two of the most important issues: education and health care.

Whether it’s parents choosing the best education for their kids, or patients directing the use of their health care dollars, rather than shackling Americans to government bureaucracy, we must commit to freeing all people to the rewards of personal responsibility.

There was once a time when to be a “liberal” meant you were advancing the cause of liberty, pushing the envelope for greater individual rights and responsibilities. Unfortunately, modern political liberals have exchanged personal responsibility for government control and mandates.

In this election, Americans in general, and Texans in particular, have the opportunity to choose between increasingly different views of the future. Starting with this election, with our votes and voices, we can demand that politicians stop trying to give us everything, and instead only pursue policies designed to enhance true liberty.

All Texans will benefit from a renewed emphasis on economic and personal freedom for ourselves, for our families, and for our communities.

Michael Quinn Sullivan is vice president of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.