This is a primary purpose of Congress as an institution — to enable and compel accommodation in a divided society. And the fact that accommodation now seems nearly impossible in our politics is a result of Congress’s failure to recognize and serve its purpose more than it is the cause of that failure.

That should guide how we think about reforming Congress. If the problem to be solved is that cross-partisan agreement is necessary for Congress to legislate but such agreement is very rare now, then there are broadly two sorts of possible paths toward reform: You could look for ways to make cross-partisan agreement more likely to happen, or you could look for ways to make it less necessary. Too many would-be reformers now lean toward the second path, and so incline to changes that would allow narrow majorities (which are the only sort we have at the moment) to act on their own. This particularly means ending the filibuster in the Senate, but it also means more generally devaluing bargaining in Congress’s work and instead valuing executive characteristics such as energy and dispatch.

But if you think that enabling and compelling compromise is the very purpose of the institution, and that Congress’s serving that purpose is essential to the health of our broader political culture, then you would incline toward the first path of reform — making compromise more likely to happen by enabling the institution to better represent the political diversity of the country and to function as an arena for bargaining and accommodation. That’s not just an argument for keeping the filibuster. It calls for changes to our system, within the bounds of the Constitution. That could include some electoral reforms (like greater experimentation with multi-member districts in the House and with ranked-choice voting), and some institutional reforms (like increasing the size of the House of Representatives, letting committees control some floor time in each house, or combining authorization and appropriation work) that would allow more distinct and durable factions to form within both parties that could alter the roles of party leaders and strengthen the incentives for meaningful bargaining across party lines.