Partisanship in Congress reflects serious philosophical disagreements.
Kudos to local U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, an Urbana Republican, and U.S. Rep. Christopher Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, for holding a town hall meeting Sunday in Champaign to discuss the importance of both parties working together amicably on Capitol Hill.
Both men are, of course, correct in their assertion that it's important to listen to opposing views and work hard to find common ground. Obviously, it's no secret that Democrats and Republicans in the nation's capital are at loggerheads and that the poisonous atmosphere will probably get worse as the 2012 election draws ever closer.
But let's not get too carried away by the notion that the problems in our country today are a manifestation of political partisanship, that all would be well if Republicans and Democrats would just cooperate with each other.
Johnson and Murphy may have been singing "Kumbaya," but the discord on Capitol Hill reflects serious philosophical disagreements about the best way to address complicated issues.
These differences, no doubt, are accentuated by personality conflicts and a desire to gain a political advantage, however temporary. But it's the policy disputes that are driving the political discord.
Here's just one example.
President Obama and many Democrats assert another big spending program will help stimulate the economy into a stronger recovery. Republicans contend that Obama's roughly $800 billion stimulus program passed in 2009 was largely a failure and that another one not only won't work but also will add to our already burdensome national debt.
How do the two parties split that difference? They don't disagree on the size of a stimulus, they disagree on the entire premise of another stimulus.
That's a big gap to cover by just playing nice, and the gulf is reflected by divided government — Democrats elected with Obama in 2008 and Republicans elected in 2010. The voters who will have to settle the disagreement in next year's elections.