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Editorial: Divisive issues shouldn’t prevent bipartisan solutions

While it was important for Sen. Thom Tillis and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to visit Rowan County and talk with farmers in person last week, it’s unlikely there’s a solution on the immediate horizon for issues they heard about.

As Doug and Randall Patterson told the Post last week, problems faced by Patterson Farm include that labor is cheaper in Mexico, meaning that American-made products are more expensive at local supermarkets. Tillis said America should base the number of people allowed to work in the country with H-2A visas on need rather than a hard cap. Perdue added that America needs to collectively separate the issue of temporary migrants for agricultural and seasonal work from illegal immigration.

Said another way, the long term vitality of locally owned U.S. farms requires major policy changes related to trade and immigration — two topics that are deeply political charged. In a time when impeachment is top of mind for Democrats and Republicans in Congress, it seems increasingly unlikely that a bipartisan group can be assembled to work on those issues.

Tillis wrote an op-ed published in the Post on Thursday (“House holds up passage of trade deal”), complaining that Trump has negotiated a trade deal with Mexico and Canada that is “historic” and a “win for Americans.” It’s Democrats and, more specifically, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s fault for not passing the deal, Tillis wrote.

But complaints go two ways, with House legislation sitting in the Senate that doesn’t stand a chance of being discussed. And Democrats would argue that American trade troubles have been self-inflicted by President Donald Trump.

Partisan gridlock is worse than ever. And the American public is more polarized than ever, too.

Doug Patterson spoke passionately about that gridlock, and provided evidence that government gridlock is nothing new.

“My brother and I have been going to Washington for 25 years and nothing has been done on the adverse wage rate, improving the H-2A program, immigration, fair trade from Mexico,” Patterson said.

He’s likely one of many who would prefer bipartisan solutions on tough issues rather than partisan bickering. And while there should be energy in Washington to pursue broad, bipartisan solutions while simultaneously disagreeing on divisive issues like impeachment, it’s unlikely that there will be until after the 2020 elections or later.

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