i still don't get why congressional democrats keep calling it quits after they lose a cloture vote. all that means is that there aren't enough votes to end the debate. so keep debating.
cloture votes have become a shorthand signal for a filibuster--when a minority group of senators refuses to allow the debate to end to avoid a vote on its merits. so once it becomes clear they don't have the 60 votes, everyone assumes that if they continued with the debate, the opposition would just filibuster and keep the debate going endlessly. they don't want to actually go through the motions of an endless debate, so instead they just deem it filibustered and move onto another topic.
it's a stupid strategy. filibustering is an extreme tactic because it brings all business of the senate to a halt. the filibusterer throws a monkey wrench into the senate machinery as a last-ditch tactic for the minority to get its way. the down side to the tactic is that the filibusterer risks being branding an obstructionist. which is accurate. the very purpose of filibustering is obstruction.
the democrats' decision to back off and withdraw bills whenever they lose a cloture vote takes away any downside to filibustering. because the majority can be expected to immediately cave, the filibusterer is free to block the end of debate without any fear that debate will actually continue. there's no risk of being branded an obstructionist and so there is no adverse cost to blocking cloture. without a deterrent, they do it every time. and suddenly, it takes 60 votes, not 51, for a bill to pass the senate.
the democrats don't have to tolerate it. and i'm not talking about the procedural sham known as the nuclear option. all the democrats have to do is continue with the debate when they lose the cloture vote. if the opposition votes against ending debate, then fine, keep debating. and they can keep doing that again and again. meanwhile, nothing else gets done in the senate, no spending bills, no war funding bills, no nothing. everything else can lapse all because the stubborn opposition refuses to end their filibuster and allow it to come to a vote. the onus would go back to where it belongs, on the shoulders of the obstructionists
and eventually maybe the filibuster will again be considered an extreme tactic-- a tactic reserved for only special circumstances, when stopping all other business might actually be worth it. and one in which the filibusterers take a risk, the risk of being the obstructionists that they are.