By Barbara Hall, CNN
Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.
(CNN) – America's partisan political divide has led to persistent gridlock in Congress. In fact, the polarization is so profound that some Americans fear the federal government may soon be unable to perform even the most basic functions.
Partisan allegiance is also stifling efforts to compromise within state legislatures. But politics aren't quite as paralyzing in Nebraska.
Former Lieutenant Governor Kim Robak credits the unique, single-house legislature known as a unicameral:
[1:17] "We don't have the arguing and the gridlock and the vitriol that you see at the national level because of partisan politics."
What makes Nebraska's unicameral system even more unique is that it's also the only nonpartisan legislature in the country.
Because of that, Robak says, lawmakers in Nebraska are more likely to address actual issues as opposed to taking a position based on party politics:
[1:36] "It really does make a difference. What's fascinating to watch is how people who would otherwise oppose each other actually work together on legislation."
Nebraska has only 49 state senators, each representing a district of about 35,000 citizens. That's one reason why Arizona State Political Scientist David R. Berman says a unicameral form of government probably wouldn't work everywhere. Berman says single-chamber systems typically work best in smaller states with more homogenous populations:
[3:38] "The fact of the matter is, I guess, that people do disagree and you've got to have someplace where they can fight it out. And a bicameral system is probably more conducive to that."
Over the years a number of other states including Hawaii, Alaska, California and Rhode Island have toyed with the idea of eliminating one chamber but so far, at least, none have. Maybe that's because in most cases it requires the legislature to assist in the process – and politicians are unlikely to vote themselves out of office.