When Rep. Joe Walsh visited with our editorial board a couple of months ago, he predicted, to our surprise, that once the election was over, we'd see a stronger spirit of collaboration in Washington.
We say surprise because if there's anyone who's seemed to us to be reflexively obstructive, it has been Walsh, a Tea Party Republican who refused even to attend the president's State of the Union address. Intransigence, we would have guessed, was his middle name.
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But in that thoughtful discussion with our editorial board, Walsh contended that from his perspective, the intransigence of the past two years was necessary because of how huge the debt and the spending had become.
"A line needed to be drawn in the sand. Absolutely," he said.
But now, even Walsh expressed frustration about Washington's inability to get anything done. Asked to name the biggest surprise he found when he went to Washington, he said, "How difficult it is to move the ball in any direction."
He said the past two years have been about saying "No." But now that "No" has effectively been stated, he added, the next two years should be more collaborative, and he predicted that would the case whether the White House occupant is Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.
"In either scenario," Walsh said, "you're going to see a concerted effort to work together."
If there is anything that encourages us on this, the morning after, it is that even someone as line-in-the-sand as Joe Walsh sees the need for a renewed bipartisanship.
That the public longs for this bipartisanship, there is little doubt.
In the final days of the presidential campaign, the messages (defined no doubt by the candidates' internal polling) centered around the need to work across the aisle.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Romney told a crowd in Ohio, "You hoped that President Obama would live up to his promise to bring people together to solve big problems, but he hasn't, and I will." Obama, the Times said, meanwhile told a crowd in New Hampshire, "If you want to break the gridlock in Congress, you'll vote for leaders who feel the same way, whether they're Democrats or Republicans or independents."
If the politicians are campaigning on bipartisanship, we only hope that now that Election Day has passed, they follow through.
We agree with Walsh that the country has huge problems. The state of Illinois does too.
The only way these problems get solved is through statesmanship, through working together, through collaboration, and yes, through compromise.
To those elected Tuesday, congratulations. The task now is to get something done. We're counting on you to work in a bipartisan spirit.
Work together. Don't let us down.