Former U.S. Senators Sam Nunn of Georgia and David Boren of Oklahoma have invited a bipartisan group of national leaders to meet on January 7 to discuss how to “stimulate a meaningful debate during the current presidential campaign on the important challenges facing our nation.” (Quote from Atlanta Journal Constitution.) Here is a portion of their letter, sent to (among others) former U.S. Senator Bob Graham, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former N.J. Governor Christie Todd Whitman, former Ambassador John Danforth and Senator Chuck Hagel:

“Our political system is, at the least, badly bent and many are concluding that it is broken at a time where America must lead boldly at home and abroad. Partisan polarization is preventing us from uniting to meet the challenges that we must face if we are to prevent further erosion of America’s power of leadership and example.

. . . To say the obvious, the presidential debates thus far have produced little national discussion of these and other fundamental issues and plans to address them. If this pattern continues through this important national election, it will produce neither a national consensus for governing nor a president who can successfully tackle these threats to our nation’s future. We understand the rough and tumble part of the political process, but without a modicum of civility and respect in our debates, forming a bipartisan consensus on the major issues after the election will be virtually impossible.”

Whether or not this meeting produces a third party candidacy (and whether or not you think that’s a good idea), it’s hard to disagree with their opening volley.