Locals want national leaders to find more common ground

Clark and Champaign party heads say inaugural is time to put aside politics.

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Washington on Monday as President Barack Obama publicly took his oath of office, but in Springfield, many residents said they simply want to see Republicans and Democrats work together more over the next four years to resolve the country’s most pressing issues.

The economy and unemployment were the key issues residents said should be the top priorities as Obama begins his second term as the country’s 44th president. But after bitter disputes ranging from the debt ceiling to health care over the last four years, many residents said both Republicans and Democrats need to find common ground for the country to move forward.

“I just wish they’d quit arguing amongst themselves,” said Joan Moore, a Springfield resident who said she’d like to see continued action to help improve the economy.

Jim Collett of Springfield said neither party has all the answers, and as long as neither side gives ground, he said little will be accomplished.

Local leaders of both political parties pointed out that inauguration day should be a time for the country to take a break from partisanship. The day shows that despite its disagreements, both parties can come together in a respectful fashion to elect a leader every four years, said Al Evans, chairman of the Champaign County Republican Party.

While neither party should have to abandon their core principles, Republicans and Democrats should be able to find common ground during Obama’s second term, said Lynda Smith, chairman of the Clark County Republican Party.

“Each side is going to have to compromise, and unless they do that, we won’t go anywhere,” Smith said.

Linda Whitaker of Springfield said she’d like both parties to focus on creating jobs over the final four years of Obama’s term. Whitaker said too many people are being laid off.

“He’s the president, and whether you like him or not, support him,” Whitaker said.

Obama touched on bipartisanship during his inauguration speech, and Ron Rhine, retired chairman of the Clark County Democratic party, said he thought Obama’s speech continued with many of the messages of the last four years.

“His speech talked about people working together,” Rhine said. “That’s the key, and he’s always said that.”

A handful of local residents were able to attend the inauguration, including Hazel Carter, 90, of Springfield. Carter also attended the last presidential inauguration, and she told the Los Angeles Times that she wasn’t going to miss this one.

“I prayed, God, just let me keep breathing until the inauguration,” she said with a laugh.

“The crowd isn’t nearly the crowd of the first time,” Carter told the Times. “The anticipation isn’t what it was. It’s a little more subdued, but beautiful. Beautiful. I love it.”

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