Why Don't Filibusters Happen More Often?

The title pretty much says it all.

Take the current budget debate(s) raging on Capitol Hill right now. If you buy into the dissenting side’s rhetoric this budget is a complete screw job on the American people. If it is (and I don’t mean for this to become a debate on the merits [or lack of merits] on the current proposed budget) why don’t those opposed filibuster the whole thing in the Senate? Surely with just shy of 50% of the Senate in their control the democrats could maintain a filibuster if they wished.

Or is the rhetoric just that with no real will behind the words? Even if that is the case the original question still stands on why we don’t see this more often?

Mainly because what goes around comes around. Politics is the art of compromise. Principles give way to pragmatism. If your party filibusters too often, so will the other one. Both will find their favorite pork unable to get through, so they pick their battles carefully. It is a watered down version of Mutually Assured Destruction. At least that’s how I heard Bob Dole explain it.

Sometimes it’s in the interest of one side to let their opponents’ legislation pass. Several years from now the Democrats will probably feel able to claim that the 2001 Budget had indeed turned out to be ‘a complete screw job on the American people’ and that they had told you so.

Usually the opposition doesn’t have to perform the actual filibuster. They just say, “If you don’t change this, we’ll filibuster and you don’t have 60 votes to stop us.”

I agree with all of the above. To add to what Libertarian said, legislators are elected to pass legislation; if they don’t pass laws that benefit their consituents, they are replaced with people who do. Anyone who filibustered at the drop of a hat would find that all their bills were stalled at whatever point in the process was convenient for the people they pissed off.

Way back in High School I wrote an essay on the vanished Washingtonian Empire, in which I wrote that “A filibuster was a horrible form of torture in which a man was made to stand as long as he talked.”

That might have something to do with it.