Congress's Unwritten Rules: A Look At How They Are Faring Congress has many rules and precedents that are documented on paper. But what about those traditions and folkways that persist unwritten?
NPR logo If A Rule Is Unwritten, Is It Really A Rule?

If A Rule Is Unwritten, Is It Really A Rule?

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In its early days, Congress wrote a series of rules and precedents — Thomas Jefferson penned a book about it — that Congress has used ever since.

But there are also unwritten rules. And it's these unwritten rules that break down when politics get excessively polarized.

Some are about helping people get along and ease tension: deferring to elders; not campaigning against other senators; speaking to each other with flowery forms of address.

Here, we take a peek in Ron's Office Hours at some of these traditions — and where they fit into today's Congress.