On the one hand, the Texas House adopted a budget $4 billion lower than the Senate. Overall government growth has been kept below population and inflation. So why does it feel so meaningless? Perhaps because Republicans absolutely failed to provide the conservative leadership on the core issues voters expect.

There was not a single amendment put forward to actually reduce any government program. Remember when then-congressman Tom Delay told the Washington Times that there was no fat left to cut in the federal budget? I had that same feeling the over weekend, watching the budget debate.

Republicans failed to find a single line-item in the budget they could work up the moral courage, the political outrage, or the economic sensibility to eliminate. Not one.

Oh, wait. They were complicit in allowing a very liberal Democrat (Jessica Farrar of Houston) to completely de-fund the Governor’s office as a PR stunt. What’s next, will Republicans go ahead and let the liberals close down prisons and eliminate the courts? Might as well. Other than Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford), Republican leaders in the House couldn’t be bothered to defend a constitutional office and function.

Some Republicans said they were showing leadership by not fighting Farrar; that it’d be fixed in the House-Senate conference committee. Sounds a lot like France saying in the early 1940s that they’d just wait for the U.S. and Britain to kick the invaders out, rather than defend their homes…

But at least the French had the underground.

When stalwart conservatives like Larry Phillips, Ken Paxton and Phil King attempted to push amendments that would achieve sound policy objectives – teacher bonuses, spending limits, and property tax relief, respectively – the liberals assailed them without mercy, and Republicans fled for the high grass.

Not a single member of the Republican leadership could even muster the effort to stand up and offer praise, let alone defend them. The House liberals were clearly running the show.

Hoping a conference committee will unravel leftist tripe isn’t a strategy. It’s a failure of ideological integrity. Rather than argue for our principles and debate the opposition, the Republican leadership ended up compromising away every chance for victory before ever beginning the battle.

The House leadership apparently doesn’t have the moral or intellectual courage – or, possibly, the philosophical basis? – from which to cogently argue an agenda, or even just oppose the other side.

One wonders why they serve in elected office at all, because it obviously isn’t to publicly advance a conservative agenda.

Is it any wonder conservative voters stay home in droves? We count on elected officials to wage the fight for what is right, not cower behind process or comity. The Republican leaders are crowing about the bipartisan budget being adopted without any fights. Easy to do, when you unilaterally disarm.

Teddy Roosevelt said that forced to choose between righteousness and peace, he would “chose righteousness.” The Republican leadership chose the opposite course.

Is avoiding a fight the highest ideal of the legislative process? Indeed, fighting for one’s principles and ideas is built into the system. It is supposed be adversarial. If it’s not, one side has simply capitulated. If Republicans are in charge and House Democratic Caucus Chair Jim Dunnam doesn’t leave the House Floor in a rage, it means the GOP has capitulated.

The record will show Dunnam and his lieutenants were actively involved in the debate; our side…?

Thomas Jefferson warned “the course of history shows us that as a government grows, liberty decreases.” The big-government advocates don’t mind when we fail to fight, they don’t mind when we compromise our principles. The status quo advances their agenda as surely as any other tool.

Liberty demands constant action and attention.

Less than three days after tens of thousands of Texans took to the streets in massive demonstrates of support for limited government, lower taxes and conservative principles, the politicians of the party that allegedly represents those values might took a nap.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."