We asked Slate staffers and contributors to discuss which presidential candidate they're voting for, and why. Here are their responses.
Michael Brus, Assistant Editor: Al Gore.
In many ways Gore is an awful candidate. He's too beholden to the elderly to reform Social Security, too beholden to the teachers' unions to reform education, and too beholden to various interest groups to simplify the tax code. His campaign has been based on fear and cheap populism. And his unctuousness—what Camille Paglia rightly calls his "prissy, lisping Little Lord Fauntleroy persona"—seriously inhibits his ability to communicate with the public. (It is a far more serious flaw than Bush's malopropisms, which are funny but never obscure his meaning.) However, over eight years, Gore has gotten the big decisions right: 1) 1993 deficit cutting, 2) NAFTA, 3) welfare reform, 4) Bosnia, and 5) Lieberman. Bush would not make a bad president. He is not an ideologue and has a kind heart. But he is just too green, and he has been more dishonest with numbers than Gore. In four or eight years—when he has more government experience and learns how to stiff-arm the right wing of his party—I might vote for him.
Christopher Caldwell, Contributor: George W. Bush.
Yes, he's short on brains. But Gore is something worse: a jumped-up B-plus intellect, a strutting mediocrity. Yes, Bush's Social Security plan is voodoo economics. But Gore's is just as bad: Project an endless boom, blow the surplus, and bequeath massive tax hikes to his successor.
Gore has moved to the left of Clinton on domestic policy and lacks Clinton's gift for reining in his party's fringe. He's a maniac for regulation. His environmentalism is messianic. And anyone who considers public office a venue for self-actualization, as Gore so clearly does, ought to be kept far away from this country's armed forces.
At least Bush's instincts run toward laissez faire, toward freedom—however gutless he may be in avowing them.
Randy Cohen, Contributor: Ralph Nader.
Al Gore is a dishearteningly right-wing Democrat who favors the death penalty, welfare "reform," an anti-missile system, and sanctimonious religious blather. And he is the candidate I support. The alternative is far worse: G.W. Bush is a shallow, unprincipled, inarticulate corporate shill. That's why I'm voting Nader. Here in New York, where Gore is way ahead, I have that luxury. But if anyone in a battleground state votes Nader, I'll hold him personally responsible for the end of affirmative action, the eroding of habeas corpus, and the loss of reproductive rights. And for every time some chic European sexpot intellectual mocks me for living in a country with a baboon president.