The filibuster is kind of like an onside kick: when your team pulls it off, it’s cause for raucous celebration. When the other team does, it you want to punch kittens and fight an entire cloister of nuns.
Recently, there have been two impeccable examples of this by two politicians that have garnered much media attention and galvanized their particular bases. In late June, there was Democratic state Senator Wendy Davis in her pink running shoes, attempting to halt a bill in Texas that would have established various restrictions on abortions. And of course last week we were all privy to the sight of Texas Senator Ted Cruz reciting Green Eggs and Ham to an empty Senate chamber as part of a quixotic campaign to defund Obamacare.
It appears that Texans have a special appreciation for this maneuver, and while both would like to be painted as crusaders of their respective causes waging an honorable battle against majority tyranny, the reality of each situation is far from that romantic picture.
Both of these filibusters were carefully crafted to gain as much media attention as possible for these individuals who have their sights on more prestigious political pastures. Both of these filibusters were symbolic measures in the face of certain defeat. And both of these filibusters would have been complete wastes of time if not for the media coverage and subsequent campaign donations that certainly followed.
Davis stood at the podium at spoke for eleven hours and the entire nation discovered a previously unknown women’s rights crusader. Those eleven hours netted her $1 million in donations, despite the fact that Texas Gov. Rick Perry simply convened a special session the next day and the abortion bill passed. Now, Davis is set to announce an underdog campaign to run for governor. She already has support from EMILY’s list, an interest group that helps fund campaigns for pro-choice women who seem to have a legitimate chance to win office and whose name is an acronym for Early Money Is Like Yeast.
Similarly, Cruz’s 21-hour ramble was designed as a self-serving campaign tool rather than as a legitimate political maneuver, especially when you consider that it was not a true filibuster, it had no chance of working and it did not have the backing of his Republican counterparts in either the House or the Senate. Cruz is widely presumed to be preparing for a run at the presidency and has already made several visits to the early primary/caucus states like Iowa and New Hampshire.
Campaign season 2016 is already upon us, despite the fact that campaign season 2012 ended less than a year ago. We will soon be faced with the ugly prospect of various Republican hopefuls trying to out-conservative each other, and it appears that Cruz is in the lead so far. Other hopefuls will surely be trying to shore up their conservative status in the months to come as Marco Rubio and Rand Paul rushed to be seen supporting Cruz and Chris Christie continues to fight against gay marriage in New Jersey.
As entertaining as that type of circus can be — I sincerely miss watching Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachman and Perry take turns becoming a laughingstock — the prospect of watching a series of potential candidates slowly build up and destroy their campaign over the next three years is wearisome to contemplate. The Democratic campaigns haven’t been so overt, but speculation about whether or not Hillary Clinton will run has been rampant in the last week. The real speculation should be about when and how she announces her candidacy.
It would be nice if some of these politicians would stop filibustering our collective balls and pandering to the far left or far right for the sake of a future primary. They should start finding real solutions to our nation’s glaring problems instead of manufacturing self-inflicted crises every few months and threatening the stability of the economy.
Unfortunately, real solutions require compromise, which seems to be the dirtiest word in politics these days. Any hint of cooperation is now viewed as a betrayal of one’s party and will certainly be highlighted by political opponents once primary season gets underway.
We can be certain that these media campaigns by Cruz and Davis and others looking toward higher office is only the beginning. It’s a long way to 2016. Get used to seeing their faces.
Zane Womeldorph likes bacon. Send responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.