James A. Baker III and Andrew Young have teamed up to write an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal headlined "Identity Politics Are Tearing America Apart."
Baker is a former Republican secretary of both state and treasury, and Young was a UN ambassador and mayor of Atlanta. It is a long piece, but here is a nugget:
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.
Both of us have been at the center of heated disputes in this country and around the world. And there’s one thing we’ve learned over the decades: You achieve peace by talking, not yelling. The best way to resolve an argument is to find common ground.
We encourage Congress and the White House to take this approach in the fall. First, they should raise the debt ceiling and fund the government. There is no benefit to shutting down the government simply because one side does not get all it wants from the legislative process. A government shutdown would only fortify most people’s dissatisfaction with a federal government they (often correctly) believe doesn’t work for them. And it would only breed more debilitating cynicism.
We hope that leaders in Washington will also focus on infrastructure projects that can help the U.S. keep pace with its global competitors, particularly China. Floodwaters don’t distinguish between Republicans and Democrats. Nor do rotting bridges discriminate between whites and blacks. This is an important and easy area to emphasize common interests. Political leaders should prioritize and provide tangible policies that benefit Americans. They are long overdue.
We also encourage Washington to focus with laserlike intensity on the federal tax code, which handcuffs American businesses. This country needs to find politically palatable ways to streamline that code and bring corporate taxes in line with those of other countries. As a way to protect the debate from becoming a battle over whose ox gets gored, Congress should make any tax reform revenue-neutral. Legislation should also encourage investors to bring their money back into the U.S., where it can be put into civic projects that improve America.
You can disagree with Baker's and Young's prescriptions, but it is hard to disagree with their contention that it is time for the country to stop tearing itself apart, often over things that happened a century and a half ago.