Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Clifford Brown




party, congress, legislative, efforts, institutional


This thesis is an assessment of the effectiveness of today’s Congress as a deliberative, representative and legislative body. The state of modern Congress is unprecedented polarization and ineffectiveness. Party leaders use their power to homogenize their party and attempt to enforce strict party unity to better ensure the passage of the partisan legislation being produced by committees. Both houses suffer the effects of the minority party blocking majority legislative efforts in an attempt to regain public support and the majority, and the effects of majority party tactics to suppress minority influence and the minority party agenda. These party tactics are not new. What is new is the unprecedented level to which they are manifesting themselves in Congress and degrading the effectiveness of the institution. The dissolution of institutional loyalty has also allowed unprecedented polarization. Whereas members of Congress used to enjoy camaraderie and a sense of unity and purpose to legislate for the interests of the country and maintain autonomy, today members are abandoning their institutional, bipartisan civility, debate and legislative efforts. Individualistic, elective oversight feeds the polarized nature of modern Congress and negates the reinstatement of institutional loyalty over party loyalty and bipartisanship. Members of Congress are spending less time in Washington and are less willing to participate in bipartisan efforts to produce effective legislation. The vacuum in legislative responsibility coupled with the expanding and diversifying American population necessitates support systems for legislators to accomplish their aims. There has been an increase of committee, district and office staffers to provide this assistance. The onus is on the American public to restore effectiveness to modern Congress. To confront increasing partisanship and declining institutional commitment that lead to ineffectiveness the American people must elect legislators who will commit to returning transparency, accountability and bipartisanship to congressional legislative efforts and produce comprehensive legislation for the preservation and prosperity of our country.