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Our view: Time to act for real unity

Nearly 25,000 attended the congressional charity baseball game Thursday in Washington. Nationwide, millions were paying attention as Democrats and Republicans came together on the field in a showing of unity that could be — should be — the start of a new normal in American politics. It's an image we want burned into America's conscience.

When James Hodgkinson opened fire at a baseball practice at a Virginia ballpark, his deranged attack — specifically aimed at congressional Republicans — may have finally made people realize that venomous partisanship is distilling hatred like few other times in this country.

Blame can be equally distributed. Partisan national news programs and social media have played key roles. So, too, does continued lack of cooperation and civility between Republicans and Democrats.

Calm dialogue has gone out the window. We see it here at the Herald — such as the fellow who yells obscenities into our answering service but won't pick up his phone when we call back to discuss a political disagreement.

For many, ranting is now a preferred communication, and it's happening everywhere. For some, it's becoming pathological. And for the unhinged and deranged, violence can follow.

Hodgkinson, the Washington shooter, hates President Trump and Republicans. And why? For their politics?

Such a shame. Such a waste.

Meanwhile, the baseball game Thursday was marked by touching displays between players from both political parties. It was a feel-good moment, but it's time to take it a step further.

We appreciate what U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., told CBS shortly after the Wednesday shootings.

"Our republic is in danger," he said. "We have got to tone down the rhetoric. It has to begin with us — both parties. It has to come from the media and other people who are speaking to the country, and particularly in social media."

He said Congress has to "lead by example."

"Obviously, Republicans and Democrats differ on issues, but we can have a civil discussion," he said. "I think it begins with me and my colleagues. Every one of us needs to take responsibility for what we say and how we say it."

We appreciate the unity shown on the field at the ballgame, but urge members of Congress to do a better job of showing it daily on Capitol Hill.

We received comments from U.S. delegates from Minnesota and North Dakota, but nobody was as forthright as Palmer about working toward better cooperation and civility. Of the delegates who serve the Red River Valley, only Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., officially touched on a new attitude, saying "events like this cause reflection and renew a commitment to unity among our colleagues."

To Cramer, Palmer and others in Congress, we say: It's time to be leaders on civility, cooperation and true national unity.