Undeniably, our country has reached a moment of heightened partisan competition. Political polarization, negative partisanship, the disappearance of institutionalism, and the tribal nature of our two-party system all point to the dysfunction that Congress currently experiences. Some have called for a restoration of civility in both political rhetoric and actions, yet civility might just be the ultimate lost cause in Washington. Congressional gridlock cannot be cured with civility as niceness. Looking at how Jim Wright (D) and Newt Gingrich (R) conducted their political business, each while Speaker of the House, serve as case studies that provide an understanding of how our government has reached the current period of cutthroat politics. While their rhetoric was divisive, their actions that defied institutional rules and signaled a breach of regular order were more astounding. Hence, a restoration of civility is still not the appropriate remedy. Reinstituting procedural fairness and efforts to increase social capital among members of Congress represent the two-pronged solution that will cure Congress’s current crisis. These solutions aim to restore Congress’s effectiveness and bolster elements of cooperation and compromise among Members.



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