A former Republican secretary of state and Atlanta's former Democrat mayor are warning that Americans need to learn to work together instead of fighting each other on every public policy issue.

"The country faces a stark choice," wrote James Baker III and Andrew Young in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

"Its citizens can continue screaming at each other, sometimes over largely symbolic issues," they said. "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."

They called out both sides for some of the actions that have led to violent disagreement and violence, such as the recent wave of white nationalism rallies that have led to counterprotests.

"Those who preach hatred should be called out for their odious beliefs," they wrote. "But even as extremism is condemned, Americans of good will need to keep up lines of civil, constructive conversation."

"Both of us have been at the center of heated disputes in this country and around the world," Baker and Young wrote. "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."

They also encouraged lawmakers and the White House not to allow a partial government shutdown this fall over what are likely to be contentious fights over spending and the debt ceiling.

"A government shutdown would only fortify most people's dissatisfaction with a federal government they (often correctly) believe doesn't work for them," they said. "And it would only breed more debilitating cynicism."

"We understand that politics is a contact sport, but leaders in Washington need to restrain their rhetoric and practice the lost art of compromise," the op-ed said. "They should stop pandering to the worst in us and appeal instead to what President Lincoln called 'the better angels of our nature.'"