Washington (CNN) – In the midst of a bitter and brutal election season, bipartisanship among candidates for Congress is highly unlikely.
But that is exactly what a bipartisan group of more than 130 former lawmakers are asking for in a letter sent to all Senate and House members running for reelection and their opponents.
In the letter, the former members of Congress acknowledge the advantages of partisanship, but say members of the opposing party are not "the enemy."
"None of us shrank from partisan debates while in Congress or from the partisan contests getting there," the letter reads.
"During our time in Congress, partisans on the other side may have been our opponents on some bills and our adversaries on some issues. They were not, however, the enemy."
"Congress appears gripped by zero-sum game partisanship. The goal often seems to be more to devastate the other side (the enemy, no longer the honorable adversary) than to find common ground to solve problems, much less to have a spirited but civil debate about how to do so."
"Lawmakers who try to address problems and find workable solutions across party lines find themselves denigrated by an angry fringe of partisans, people unhappy that their representatives would even deign to work with the enemy. When bipartisan ideas are advanced, they are met by partisan derision."
Addressing the election season, the former members ask candidates to conduct their campaigns "with decency and respect" and 'to refrain from personal attack[s]" towards the opposition.
The letter was sent by the group Former Members of Congress for Common Ground which was organized by former Congressmen John Porter (R-Illinois) and David Skaggs (D-Colorado).
See the full letter and signatures here.
–CNN Congressional Correspondent Brianna Keilar contributed to this report.