People like to talk about the Hastert Rule. They say it's named after Denny Hastert, longest serving GOP Majority Leader. The idea was that unless a piece of legislation would have the support of a majority of the GOP, it wouldn't be brought to the floor. So, if there were 230 Republicans, 115 of them would have to have been whipped or the bill wouldn't come to the floor. Yet, his tenure as Speaker all started with such bipartisanship. The following was part of Hastert's speech from the floor on accepting the Speakership:
"Solutions to problems cannot be found in a pool of bitterness. They can be found in an environment in which we trust one another's word; where we generate heat and passion, but where we recognize that each member is equally important to our overall mission of improving the life of the American people." Source.
And then came a few votes where Hastert was committed to getting a Republican majority. And people started talking about "The Hastert Rule". But Denny Hastert said this to the National Journal in a recent interview:
"That was a misnomer at a press conference. One time they asked me about immigration legislation, why don't I just use Democrat votes? I said, well I'm never going to not have a majority of my own party go along with me. If you do that, then you're not using your own policy. And [the press] blew that up as the Hastert Rule. The Hastert Rule, really, was: If you don't have 218 votes, you didn't bring the bill to the floor," he explained.
Asked by a surprised reporter to confirm that he, Dennis Hastert, thinks there is no rule named after him, the former speaker replied: "There is no Hastert Rule, no."
If we parse his comments, they're a little contradictory. You need 281 votes, but you still need your party's concurrence. But the point is IT'S NOT A RULE! It's not a piece of parliamentarian absolutism.
In countries with parliaments, members of a party are required to vote the party line at all times unless there is a conscience vote. That was never what was intended by the Founding Fathers for the US. The idea was that people with differing views would come together and compromise. It's evident in the Constitution and how it was developed.
There's a sad history of how we came to being such armed camps: the rise of air travel beginning in 1960, the rise of cable news beginning in the 1980's, and finally the immediacy of the web in the last decade. Prior to all of this, people went to DC and they stayed there, except for the late summer break and the Christmas break, and a few long weekends. The social lives of elected representatives were generally other elected representatives. They shared apartments and houses, they had dinner together, they worked out in the gym together, they "hung". In addition, there were interviews with actual journalists, scholarly papers, and other sorts of information that was checked, parsed and then published.
This is all gone now. Most reps go home most weekends. Flying makes that possible. James Madison, when coming to DC, used to leave his farm, travel to Middletown, VA, about 50 miles west of DC, and spend the last night at the Red Fox Inn (yes, I've eaten there, and seen his room) before the final trek in the carriage. It wasn't something he did for a weekend...he went for the term. Sure, a different reality, but congeniality is certainly lost.
I've served on a number of committees and boards over my life. The ones that worked best were the ones where people interacted socially in addition to simply showing up for the meetings. That made things so much easier. For example, if you know someone, you often know what they really mean when they make a point. You know, for example, what is posturing, and what is reality.
Barring conviviality amoungst Congressmen and Senators, there is something that WE, THE PEOPLE can do. Call. Write. e-mail. Let reps know what WE want, what we expect of them. Develop those sorts of relationships, and get your friends to call. Trust me, if you call enough, staffers get to know you. Those calls and letters made a huge difference in the 87 Republicans who voted to reopen government and raise the debt ceiling. It will matter going forward as the budget is discussed. It takes 3 weeks to make a habit - you can make a habit of contacting your reps weekly (or more often...). They'll listen because votes matter.