How Slatesters Voted
Would a President Nader do things differently? Heck, how should I know, but if the Greens get the disaffected, forgotten nonvoters of this country to participate, democracy will be better off and civic discourse more honest.
William Saletan, Senior Writer: Gore.
I've become disenchanted with the Democrats' reflexive, dishonest, and dangerous promises of indiscriminate government-provided or -mandated benefits without cost. I'd love to vote for a liberal Republican, but the GOP has turned instead to leftist-style revolutionary dogmatism and the moral arrogance of the comfortably stupid. I voted for John McCain in the primary and for Connie Morella, our Republican congresswoman, in the general election.
I have problems with Gore. I prefer Lieberman's instincts on vouchers, tort reform, affirmative action reform, and retirement account privatization. The first time I saw Bush, I liked him. But the more I saw of him, the less there was to see. He's shallow, obtuse, and proud of it. He's disdainful of reflection and indifferent to work. He has lived a life devoid of purpose, commitment, difficulty, or sacrifice. Gore, at least, is smart, careful, and diligent. Congress can restrain either of them, but a president can catastrophically botch a foreign policy crisis all by himself. I trust Gore in that situation. I don't trust Bush.
José Saura, Software Developer: Gore.
I believe that this presidential race is between a not very smart oligarch and a somewhat insecure demagogue. I have decided on the latter because I just hope that once he wins he will stop making crowd-pleasing speeches and telling nonsense stories, and he will focus again on important issues such as the environment, health care, and education.
Jack Shafer, Deputy Editor: Browne.
Many of my friends find themselves bound in game theory knots over whether or not to cast their ballots for Ralph Nader. Nader can't possibly win the election, they are told, and therefore their "wasted vote" will have as much of an effect as a mass demo in front of the White House. Plus, it may end up electing Bush and help destroy abortion rights, the environment, and liberoprogressivism.
To the would-be Nader voters, I offer this advice: Be like me and go ahead and vote your mind, even if the cause is lost. I've wasted every one of my presidential ballots on Libertarian candidates since I first became eligible to vote in 1972. In 1972, I wrote in John Hospers. (He got 3,907 votes.) In 1976, I picked Roger McBride. In 1980, Ed Clark. In 1984, David Bergland. In 1988, Ron Paul. In 1992, Andre Marou. In 1996, Harry Browne. Losers—I don't have to add—all.
With Browne running again this year, I'm geared up to waste my vote an eighth time. Why do I persist? For one thing, I agree with the Libertarian Party platform: much smaller government, much lower taxes, an end to income redistribution, repeal of the drug laws, fewer gun laws, a dismantled welfare state, an end to corporate subsidies, First Amendment absolutism, a scaled-back warfare state. (You get the idea.) For another, by voting for the Libertarian, I leave the voting precinct feeling clean. How many Gore and Bush voters will be able to say the same on Nov. 7?
Lastly, even if voting the way I think and the way I write hasn't resulted in the election of a Libertarian president, I indulge myself in the delusion that my perseverance has had some impact on our politics. Don't give me personal credit for stopping the draft; deregulating the airlines, trucking, communications, and financial markets; legalizing gold ownership; advancing free trade; or expanding the penumbra of the First Amendment. But don't deny me my delusions, either. I know the effort hasn't been a waste.
Illustration on the Slate Table of Contents by William L. Brown.