Last week, the Opinion section asked readers what issues mattered most to them and how they affected their votes. Below are selected responses:
Global warming is my top issue, which led to my voting for Brady Walkinshaw over Pramila Jayapal. Walkinshaw gets the urgency of this issue in a way that Jayapal does not. While I support issues like immigrant rights and equal pay, making anything other than combating climate change your top issue is akin to arguing over the bar tab on the Titanic.
I am also supporting I-732, the revenue-neutral carbon tax, as an appropriate first step. Does it do enough? No. But it’s a statewide initiative whose success will depend on at least some support from Eastern Washington, where I grew up. The people of Spokane, Yakima and Wenatchee could care less if it doesn’t right all of the environmental justice wrongs of our carbon culture — indeed, a more progressive strategy would be doomed to fail.
Perry Parsons, Seattle
The carbon tax, I-732, is the most important issue on the ballot this election. Voters have the opportunity to break the partisan log-jam in the U.S. by taking action on global warming. When combined with the policies of British Columbia, California and Oregon, it would establish a price on carbon for a combined economy that would rank as the world’s fifth largest. Let that sink in: Larger than France, India, Brazil or Italy. And once it is passed, it would be model legislation for other states to adopt.
Washingtonians have a reputation as entrepreneurs, risk-takers and visionaries. I-732 follows in that tradition by being the most aggressive tax on carbon in the world. At the same time, it would address known shortcomings in our tax code by repealing the archaic B&O tax and reducing the regressive sales tax by 1 percent.
Jeff Berner, Seattle
The economy and inequality
Prosperity is the most important goal for our country. Wishing for economic well-being for as many people as possible in our country is like wishing for three more wishes, because prosperity can snowball and give us more control over our future as individuals, families, communities and regions and as a country. We need prosperity to invest in education, prepare for our energy future and build the infrastructure we need to handle the future.
It is crucial that all segments of society have opportunities to earn that prosperity, because people are motivated and willing to be productive when they feel they have a shot at leading a productive life, and that in turn makes our whole society more productive — and we will need all hands on deck and all minds engaged to be ready for what the future throws at us. While it may seem like a focus on economic well-being would point me toward a vote for a Republican president, I feel that republicans effectively squash motivation among low and mid-earners by increasing the gap between rich and poor, reducing expectations and hope when we need exactly the opposite. For that reason, I voted for Hillary Clinton.
Lilette Player, Woodinville
As a farmer and county farm bureau president (Yakima) my votes are driven by desperation to remain competitive in a brutal, global economic environment. Initiatives and politicians that would promote regulations and taxes and would increase costs at a time when nearly all agricultural commodities are down in price, some by two-thirds from the high, are an intolerable burden for Washington state agriculture.
The two initiatives with the greatest negative impact on farmers are I-1433, which would increase the minimum wage and I-732, which would impose a carbon tax. I voted against both. We pay the highest minimum wage in Washington compared to every country save Australia. A carbon tax would increase the costs of fuel and fertilizer, would reduce labor mobility and would offshore processing to other states and countries.
Down-ballot the most important votes to me were for the three insurgent Washington State Supreme Court candidates, who are David DeWolf, Greg Zempel and Dave Larson. The present supreme court seems economically illiterate and hopelessly detached from the negative impact of its rulings on small farmers and the business community. Finally, I enthusiastically voted for Steve McLaughlin for commissioner of public lands. He is the only candidate with actual experience in public-lands management.
Frank Lyall, Grandview
Economic security for middle-class working Americans is the most important issue. I felt Bernie Sanders was the best choice for this issue. As he did not secure the nomination, I am currently undecided between Hillary Clinton and Jill Stein. Decision forthcoming.
Josh Loomis, Snohomish
Trade and immigration
Free trade and immigration: These are really one issue. The only thing that has kept our country afloat through the last recession and having some continued success in the world is our ability to have a decent standard of living with low inflation. This means we have to have a source of cheap goods — imports from other countries via free trade. And we also have to have cheap labor to do unpleasant hard jobs in agriculture, construction and basic societal maintenance. These are jobs that most American citizens won’t do for low wages. Donald Trump would destroy our freedom if he gets elected, because he would cut free trade and cut immigration
Michael Irrgang, Black Diamond
Social safety nets
My top issues are protection of Social Security benefits, including higher cost-of-living adjustments and a fairer method of determining them for people on fixed incomes in times of rising prices that aren’t being honestly portrayed or calculated. Hillary Clinton and all other Democrats are vastly superior to any Republican and the entire Republican platform, the latter of which would cut or privatize Social Security. At best, Donald Trump just wants the system to take care of itself, supposedly by vaguely improving the economy through nebulous methods that never worked in the past. By contrast, Clinton has said she supports measures to preserve or even expand Social Security, such as raising the cap — such an obvious fix.
Shelley Simcox, Bremerton
Don’t let Donald Trump anywhere near the White House. Hillary Clinton is more qualified, without question.
Yet that repellent man still has a chance? How is this even possible? The GOP has shown that it can’t govern, by obstructing everything that would help this country. They are acting like petulant children and must be replaced with people who will do their job. This election is about sanity versus vanity. I pray the voters make the choice that would help the most Americans.
Mary Steelman, Bremerton
Ethics and values
I am most concerned with the protection of individual liberty and ensuring that government continues to let us live our lives to the fullest. This led me to vote for mostly Republican and Libertarian candidates. This is important to me because, in my view, the amount of individual liberty we have is quickly shrinking in all areas, whether it be economically, legally or otherwise.
Kaleb Patterson, Stanwood
What is important to me in this election is post-election healing and restoring faith in government. I think the Republican candidate for president has set our country back at least 50 years — that it’s ok to be a racist, to be unethical in how you treat your customers and clients and being all about self. While the Democratic candidate may have issues, I believe she has the best of intentions on how we should treat our fellow human beings.
Alan Oiye, Seattle
U.S. Supreme Court
Getting a ninth U.S. Supreme Court justice confirmed and ending the congressional gridlock is the most important issue. I put the blame for the current state of the country’s frame of mind solely on the refusal of Congress to do it’s job of representing the people of the country. It is not for them to just raise money for their next campaign.
Scott Hendricks, Midway, Utah
The issue that matters most to me is restoring confidence in our government — being confident that the electorate and elected alike understand and respect the foundations of our country. These include three branches of government each with separate powers and responsibilities with rule of law. A healthy democracy absolutely relies on a free press and that we all share responsibility for the things that benefit us all — clean air and water, a safe and efficient transportation system, education, military.
Would I choose a doctor or builder or mechanic — let alone a president — who knows next to nothing about how to do the job or how to separate fact from fiction? Of course not. I have to have confidence that the president is competent and knowledgeable. Nothing matters to me as much as having a safe and sane federal government, which is why I am voting for Hilary Clinton.
Kim Drury, Langley
Constitutional government is my issue. The intricacy of our system of government, with separated powers, checks, balances and a division of responsibilities, is vital — seemingly beyond the capacity of the press to explain or fpr inattentive voters to appreciate.
The anti-government bias, the hate, the cynicism, the stinginess, the egotism that the far right wing has embraced are treated as normal, though arising from the basest motives. This accounts for the appeal of Donald Trump. The ability of Republican leaders to pretend obstruction rather than loyal opposition fulfills their oath to defend the Constitution. The notion that a proposal’s merit is determined by its pocketbook impact, not justice, fairness or public benefit.
The Democratic Party today has the public servants who want government to benefit all of us, not just a few. Republicans, who like to hate government — favor unlimited arms over peace and prize ignorance over education and science — chose a lazy power monger who blames their victims for the problems their greed has caused. I voted for leaders ready for the hard work to undo the damage humans have done to the earth. I did not vote for any Republicans.
Roger Winters, Seattle
I expect my government to work. Period. My taxes pay politicians’ salaries, and I am not a fan of the current Congress and its need for endless witch hunts. America has issues to be dealt with.
I find the need of our Congress to spend our money on endless partisan committees a slap in the face of taxpayers.More than $25 million was spent on eight Benghazi committees. Under the Bush administration, there were multiple embassy attacks and more than 30 good Americans lost their lives in service to our country. Not one hearing; not one committee.
Work ethic matters. I grew up in a time when both parties worked together to solve problems, not create new ones. Integrity matters, and I find very little in our current Congress.
We are supposed to all be Americans first, party voters second. I love my country and do not believe that all this hate and venom are good for us. “Land of the brave” has become the land of the whiner, the fearful, the crybaby. Perhaps the terrible people we are electing are a true reflection of our lost souls. Not much dignity or integrity these days. Makes me very sad.
Margot LeRoy, Gig Harbor