Americans need to "stop screaming at each other" and the country's leadership needs to do away with the identity politics that are tearing this country apart, James Baker and Andrew Young wrote in a column for The Wall Street Journal.
It's time for Americans — especially Congress and the president — to rekindle passion for the common ground that unites Americans, because "floodwaters don't distinguish between Republicans and Democrats. Nor do rotting bridges discriminate between whites and blacks."
"The divisions in society are real" and the "drumbeat of dissonance seems harsher today" write the pair — Baker a former chief of staff to Ronald Reagan and Young the former Democratic mayor of Atlanta.
"The country faces a stark choice. Its citizens can continue screaming at each other, sometimes over largely symbolic issues. Or they can again do what the citizens of this country have done best in the past — work together on the real problems that confront everyone," wrote the former politicians.
Low-hanging fruit like the debt ceiling and infrastructure to repair the country's physical ailments, the pair beseech lawmakers to work on when they return from recess.
"Congress and the president must do more than just act on these pressing issues. They also need to set an example to all Americans. We understand that politics is a contact sport, but leaders in Washington need to restrain their rhetoric and practice the lost art of compromise. They should stop pandering to the worst in us and appeal instead to what President Lincoln called 'the better angels of our nature,'" the pair wrote.
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