CHAMPAIGN — Christopher Murphy and Tim Johnson may belong to opposing political parties, but the two Congressmen agree that cooperation between Republicans and Democrats is needed for the common good of the country if Congress is ever going to be able to overcome gridlock.
"In Washington, nothing can get done without the two parties working together," said Murphy a Democrat from Connecticut. "This economy, with the misery that comes with it, affects everybody, whether you are registered as a Republican or registered as a Democrat."
"Not all Democrats and not all Republicans believe the other party is evil. I don't," said the Republican Johnson of Urbana. "I believe Republicans, Democrats and independents all have to work together for the common solutions to America's problems, and anything less than that is unacceptable."
Murphy and Johnson spoke to more than 100 people who turned out Sunday afternoon for a town-hall meeting at the I Hotel in Champaign.
Both men are members of the Center Aisle Caucus, a group of members of Congress that work to bring the two political parties together to create a consensus where tough decisions can be worked out.
Johnson helped found the caucus, and Murphy is one of its leaders. The two men agreed to take part in town-hall meetings in each other's districts to demonstrate dialogue and cooperation between parties.
"Washington would work together better if the two parties just talked to each other. Tim and I are trying to set an example for our colleagues," Murphy said. "We need to think creatively about how to break the culture of dysfunction in Washington. If you are serious about Washington, you have to be serious about reaching out across the aisle."
Johnson said the people of central Illinois have been telling him that politicians need to learn to get along.
"More than ever, there is a tremendous belief that government at all levels is out of control. The dysfunctionality, the anger, the bickering and the unwillingness to work together have reached monumental proportions, and we need to do something about it."