In the U.S. Senate, the Senate rules apparently do not apply to the first day of a new Senate session until the rules are voted in by a simple majority.

Given this, and that the filibuster comes from these Senate rules, why would the majority party in the Senate ever want to approve the old rules that include a provision for filibuster, since that generally only benefits the minority party? Yet, session after session, the filibuster is voted in over the centuries. How does the filibuster survive this process continually?

  • 10
    Possibly because each side knows they'll be in the minority often enough.
    – mmyers
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 15:26
  • 2
    Think about it. The word 'No' is far more powerful than 'Yes'. Blocking anything you want simply by saying No makes you more powerful than the guy supporting a bill. Think of it in terms of a married couple making an important decision. It takes two to make the decision, but it only takes one to say nothing and ensure that nothing is done. Would any one person think it is a good idea to forgo their ability to say No to anything ever again just to win a single argument? It would be foolish in the long term
    – user117
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 16:31

1 Answer 1


There are a few reasons:

  1. @mmyers hit the nail on the head, in his comment above. Senators in the USA are long-living critters (*cough*Byrd*cough*) and they anticipate that throughout their careers, they may end up in the minority and want to have the filibuster.

  2. Some are simply conservative (not in the political orientation sense) and don't like to change the status quo.

  3. Some (okay, I'd be hard pressed to name one, but not impossible) actually truly sympathize with the Founding Fathers' original idea, one of the strongest among which was to escape the tyranny of the majority in political decisions - especially as espoused by James Madison.

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    Lets not lump all the founding fathers with being worried about the tyranny of the majority. It was typically Hamilton and the Federalists that were worried about the poor being the majority and voting their wealthy status away. The French Revolution cemented these fears. In fact the Federalists were the ones who were being accused of being aristocrats and monarchists. Jefferson and the Anti-Federalist party were ardent supporters of the French Revolution and favored more of a parliamentary democracy over the Republic institutions established by what came to be the Federalists.
    – user117
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 16:58
  • 1
    @maple_shaft - oups, I had the Q open for editing to add in James Madison and got distracted. Fixed.
    – user4012
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 17:11
  • #3 - Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Steve Daines just off the top of my head... Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 16:07
  • 3
    This is a good answer. While I suppose it might be sort of a subpoint of #2, one thing I'd add is "respect for the institution." In the not-so-distant past, Senators generally treated each other and the institution of the Senate with respect, understanding that this was better for everyone in the long-term. Over the last 10-15 years, this attitude has seemed to decline sharply on both sides of the aisle, along with a rise in violating long-standing traditions and long-term trust for short-term policy victories.
    – reirab
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 19:54

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