Americans view Congress as deeply polarized despite the public achieving bipartisan agreement on a wide range of issues. In the Senate, finding common ground is especially important given the supermajority rules required to pass legislation and confirm nominees. Members are toeing the party line in record numbers in recent years, but in a divided government finding common ground is necessary.
There are multiple ways that the Senate can try to get members from different parties to work better together, and most do not even require legislation. These include encouraging bipartisan retreats for members and their families, bipartisan fact-finding trips and cross-state travel for members. Each of these would take members out of their partisan camps, foster stronger relationships and lead to an exchange of ideas in a way that could translate into greater productivity in the chamber.
Animosity toward the opposite party continues to grow within the American electorate. Instead of simply disagreeing on policy, citizens view those of the opposite party as “immoral, dishonest, and closed-minded.” This is not sustainable. The Senate can try to turn the tide on this dynamic by leading by example and conducting themselves in a bipartisan and civil manner.