How Slatesters Voted

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Nov. 7 2000 3:00 AM

How Slatesters Voted

We asked Slate staffers and contributors to discuss which presidential candidate they're voting for, and why. Here are their responses.

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Gore wins, but Michael Kinsley explains why this doesn't mean we're biased hereAnd in this "Press Box," Jack Shafer plots to quiz other journalists about their voting practices.

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.

Maureen Cosgrove, Copy Editor: Gore.

A vote for Nader at this point is a vote for Bush, and I don't think Nader can "reform" Washington the way he thinks he can—there are entrenched inside-the-Beltway practices that would take longer than even eight years to gut. I don't have an economic manifesto to argue why I wouldn't vote for George W. on the basis of his tax and spending plans, but I don't believe in anything that George W. Bush stands for socially. Of the two-hundred-some Texas inmates put to death since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976, more than half of those occurred on his watch. His "compassionate conservatism" is an oxymoron—his Texas health-care record shows that covering the uninsured was not a priority. If his Texas record is scary, his international record is nonexistent. The thought of him trying to smirk his way through tense Mideast peace negotiations is too much to take.

Josh Daniel, Managing Editor: Gore.

Gore, admittedly, has not run an honorable campaign. In the primaries he railroaded Bill Bradley with scurrilous scare tactics, and lately he has adopted an unconvincing populist posture. (He says he wants to "return democracy to the people." Where has it been for the past eight years? In a lockbox?) I even voted for George W. Bush's re-election in Texas in 1998. But like Gore, I think we need an active, aggressive government that works to create equal opportunity for everyone. I trust his instincts and think he's got the best presidential résumé since, well, George H.W. Bush. And in this campaign Bush has proved that his dishonesty runs far deeper than Gore's—witness his shameless hand-waving over that $1 trillion hole in his Social Security plan. It's a sham, and either he doesn't know it or he doesn't care. Both possibilities are pretty disturbing.

Susan Daniels, Copy Editor: Gore.

Well, let me see: After eight years of a Democratic administration we have the lowest unemployment rate in 30 years, an economy that manages astronomical growth rates with virtually no inflation, and a federal deficit that's finally been vanquished after decades of escalation—all this, plus the makeup of the Supreme Court at stake. Oh, and the fate of my Social Security funds thrown in for good measure. And I'm seriously supposed to consider transferring the reins of power to an unabashedly anti-choice, anti-gay, geographically and mathematically challenged candidate whose attention span and grasp of detail rivals that of a moderately alert ninth-grader? Or perhaps it's those advisers-to-be-named-later that I'm supposed to trust instead? Thanks for the offer, but I think I'll pass. I'm for Gore.

Jeremy Derfner, Editorial Assistant: Gore.

Because I trust his instincts, and I don't trust Bush's. I get the sense that, despite the rap that he tries too hard to be all things to all people, Gore supports what I support (progressive taxation and gay rights, for example). And he is thoughtful about policy, often to the point of absurdity (tortured metaphors and schematics). Bush, on the other hand, doesn't seem to care about much of anything. He so despises the notion of thoughtfulness that he won't even let the smart aides who do his thinking for him be deliberative in his presence. He cuts them off and demands the answers right away. Contemplation is to Bush what spinach is to a spoiled child. He won't eat it and, worse, he won't eat anything it touches.

David Edelstein, Contributor: Gore.

George W. Bush is a rich, Skull & Bones Yalie who'd like us to believe he's a Dogpatch populist and a Washington outsider. Like his father, he has few discernible political ideals, and also like his father, his garbled syntax seems an objective correlative for an inability to sort out his various, often contradictory positions. He talks out of one side of his mouth about kindness and compassion and out of the other traffics in insult and innuendo. He takes credit for bills he vetoed that passed anyway. He and his scary running mate supported the Vietnam War, but both used their influence to make sure other people fought it. He and his scary running mate decry big government, but both made their fortunes by using that government for their own self-serving ends. The only thing I'm mad at Al Gore about is not doing a better job of exposing Dubya's hypocrisy. Otherwise, Gore is a man of stature and vision who unfortunately comes off slightly less human than Data on Star Trek. I think he's a weirdo, but I'll still vote for him with confidence in his heart, mind, and judgment.

Siân Gibby, Copy Editor: Gore.

The main issue on my mind as I vote will be future appointments to the Supreme Court; it would be a shame to see the court get larded up with too many right-wing pinheads. In the past eight years, too, I have grown accustomed to turning on the television and listening to an intelligent, articulate president. This is a kind of national pride in the president's statesmanship and aplomb that I would like to continue to enjoy. And if the price for that is putting up with a little animatronic stiffness, then so be it.

David Greenberg, Contributor: Gore.

A friend of mine hails from a mixed marriage: Republican father, Democratic mother. As a child she asked her mother the difference. "Democrats care about people," Mom explained, "Republicans care about money." I know, I know, that's a bit unfair. (Though just a bit.) Yet if I had to define the parties' differences for a small child—and, judging from the post-debate jabber of the undecideds, I do—I'd say something similar. For all my problems with Gore, I have no doubt he'll protect and even bolster those precious American resources that serve us all: public schools, Social Security, Medicare, clean air and water, civil rights laws. The (projected) budget surplus too. Bush—let's face it—would essentially gut them and give tax breaks to the rich and to business, who, if you hadn't noticed, are doing just fine under Clinton. Also, Gore never declared Jesus Day in Tennessee.

Margo Howard, Contributor: Gore.

Though I'm a longtime Democrat, this election has a strong voting-against component for me. Dubya, I fear, would not have the vaguest idea what to do with, or in, the Oval Office. While it is true that both candidates, to a degree, are doin' it for dear old dad, a Bush win would effectively give his old man a second term. From a lack of interest in detail, to put it politely, Bush the younger would of necessity turn into the delegator di tutti delegators. (Yo, Dick Cheney!) I have a bipartisan disdain for Dubya's candlepower, and it is quite clear the guy is lazy. We do not need a president who needs so much sleep that he retires at 9:30 p.m. and tries to work in an afternoon nap. But I'm in a win-win situation, because whichever candidate gets the nod, he will have plenty of problems.

Gore victory bonus: no Lynne Cheney.

Jodi Kantor, Associate Editor: Gore.

Gore, please, on general Democratic principles, and for a reason his ads and speeches have barely mentioned: that by all accounts, he's already been a clear-headed, moderate, energetic, and wise addition to the White House. I wish he'd faced a more distinguished opponent in this race; since Bush has virtually no record, Gore's had nothing to run against but a smile and some sugary half-proposals.

If Bush wins, it really will feel like the '80s all over again for me: Not only will we have a president with Reagan's brand of benign, chuckling cluelessness, but also the triumph of the genial, immature jock over the earnest, intellectual striver will give me the horrifying sensation that I'm right back in high school.

Kathleen Kincaid, Design Director: Gore.

My parents will probably be appalled by this write-up, as they guarded their presidential votes as though revealing them would be a breach of national security and bring down American democracy as we know it. I'm not sure if it was a marital strategy to avoid tension or what. As for myself, I've never been able to shut up about the presidential candidates as well as my political leanings. Previously coming from a state that plans to elect Jesse Helms until he no longer registers a pulse, I've had plenty to yammer on about over the years. I am a bleeding-heart liberal, and even though Gore doesn't measure up to all of my expectations, I do know he will do the hard work necessary and possesses the intellectual horsepower to be a good president. I went to school with too many people like Bush—living off their family name and wealth with absolutely no concern for people below their own socioeconomic class. His lack of passion for the people or the job is too obvious. Gore may have had a similarly privileged background, but he's earnestly using it to make a difference and a significant contribution as a citizen. Bush, I fear, will never see the need to do so.

Michael Kinsley, Editor: Gore.

Like most people, I start out with a predisposition. It would take a stellar Republican and/or a truly distressing Democrat to get me to change the voting habit of a lifetime. Al Gore is smart, experienced, committed to values I generally agree with. George W. Bush is not a temptation that's hard to resist.

I did make a list of Gore's issues and realized, to my horror, that I disagree on most of them. Bush is right that Gore's tax cut is a mess of gimmicky, pandering credits and deductions. His famous Social Security "lockbox" is a fiction, and the principle it represents (that Social Security revenues and benefits are sacrosanct, but general revenues should be poured into Social Security) is misguided. His demonization of the drug companies and of HMOs is a cheap evasion of real but complex problems. His absolutist opposition to school vouchers is unjustified. I even think he's wrong about abortion. I'm pro-choice, but I believe abortion rights should be protected by passing laws, not by abusing the Constitution.

Fortunately for my peace of mind, Bush's proposals are worse—either reactionary (repealing the estate tax) or fake have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too alternatives to Gore's (prescription drugs for seniors) or both (Social Security privatization). As I noted in the Oct. 23 "Readme," Bush's campaign rhetoric is a maze of self-contradiction. Bush's claim of credit for a Texas HMO-regulation law that actually passed over his veto outdoes any of Gore's real and alleged fibs. It would be interesting to know whether he's so dense that he doesn't realize he's talking bullshit, so lazy that he can't be bothered to think it out, or so cynical that he understands and doesn't care. But for voting purposes this distinction hardly matters.

Cyrus Krohn, Associate Publisher: Bush.

I voted blindly based on support of a yet-to-be-announced team. I'm voting for a Cabinet, an administration that will do the least amount of harm. I believe a Bush administration will put worthwhile change in motion for Social Security, education, energy, environmental policy, foreign affairs, and military readiness. The Justice Department and the National Security Council need immediate repair, too. I don't believe a devil will emerge after GWB takes the oath of office. The changes are bound to rile. I believe the Fourth Estate's stock is about to rise.

Steven E. Landsburg, Contributor: Harry Browne.

I'm beginning to think the only difference between the two major parties is the velocity with which their knees hit the floor when seniors demand prescription-drug benefits. After all, the Republicans have controlled both houses of Congress for six years and haven't even managed to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts. Therefore, I will vote for Harry Browne, the one candidate who stands for individual liberty and limited constitutional government.

I won't vote for Al Gore because he believes down to his marrow that nothing gets done unless the government does it. That's why he can't distinguish between politicians supporting the Internet and engineers doing the hard work of actually creating it.

I won't vote for George Bush Jr. because the sins of the fathers should be visited upon the sons, and Bush Sr. committed more sins in office than any other president of my lifetime except Johnson and Nixon. His last official act was to sign an energy bill that regulates the size of your showerhead. I don't trust anyone who was brought up by parents who believe that showerheads are an appropriate concern of the federal government.

Finally, I won't vote for Nader or Buchanan because they are the candidates of hatred and intolerance. Their antipathy toward trade with non-Americans is of a piece with David Duke's antipathy toward trade with non-whites and solidly in the most unsavory traditions of American politics.

Scott Moore, Publisher: Bush.

I'm voting my wallet this election, which given that I work for a corporation under strident attack by the incumbent administration, means I'm voting for Bush. I also expect that Bush will be less inclined to foul up the economy. And while a tax cut isn't at the top of my wish list, I believe strongly that without one, the surplus will be spent not on paying down the national debt but on new entitlements. The best outcome I can imagine for this election would be for Bush to win the White House and for the Democrats to retake control of the House. The last six years prove that gridlock in the capital can be a good thing for the economy.

Robert Neubecker, Illustrator: Gore.

I'm stilled appalled at the GOP's refusal to concede the '92 election to Clinton. I thought their subsequent behavior savagely extreme and nearly treasonous. I've voted Republican when I believed the government had drifted too far left, and I liked McCain; however, when it comes down to the issues of choice, education, health, guns, gay rights, minorities (should I say majorities?), religious freedom, etc., I'd have a hard time voting for the GOP platform. I think the lines are more clearly drawn now than ever before in my lifetime, but then again, I'm a liberal living in Utah.

I've always considered the Republicans a better bet for the economy, but that's changed; Reagan charged his boom on our collective Visa card and Clinton paid it off. I'm betting that the cash Bush is offering me for my vote will be made up and then some by continuation of prudent economic policy.

The Democrats today seem like centrists to me, and I voted Democrat right down the line. I nearly broke ranks to vote for a moderate state Republican whose policies I generally like, but he favors incarceration over treatment for nonviolent drug offenders, and that really makes me wonder what might have happened to both our presidential candidates had they been poor and caught.

Timothy Noah, Senior Writer: Gore.

I voted for Gore. I can't pretend that this resulted from much mental agonizing. I'm a Democrat, and I almost always vote for the Democrat. However, I can say that my vote for Gore was more than the usual party-line pulling of the lever. I think Gore is nearly as smart in the realm of governance as he is stupid in the realm of campaigning. The Gore who wrote Earth in the Balance and presided over seminars on the decline of metaphor in American life embarrasses me. But the Gore who headed up the "Reinventing Government" task force; who imposed some discipline on Clinton during the early, chaotic years of his administration (see Bob Woodward's The Agenda); and who dreamed up the Midgetman missile during the 1980s as an alternative to the MX, has the makings of an excellent president.

My vote for Gore must also be counted as an affirmative vote against Bush, who lacks sufficient experience for the job. It may be rash of me to write of personal impressions, since I've met Gore but have never encountered Bush face to face. From a distance, though, Bush's toxic mixture of privilege, ignorance, and resentment strikes me as far more offensive than Gore's woodenness and occasional condescension. I really can't stand Bush, even though he's supposed to be the more likable candidate. I actually do like Gore (though I've been told that, based on what I've written, he doesn't much care for me).

Josh Payton, Graphic Designer: Nader.

By voting for the guy who is guaranteed to lose, I have the right to complain for the next four years no matter who wins. In Russia you can vote for "none of the above," and if that wins they have to do the election process all over again. What do I need to sign to get that option? The optimist in me reminds me that there is always the old dependable presidents' curse, and whoever is elected in a year that ends in zero dies in office. We can only hope.

David Plotz, Washington Bureau Chief: Gore.

Four reasons Al got my vote:

1) The prospect of Gore negotiating with the Russians or Chinese is reassuring. The prospect of Bush doing it: terrifying.

2) The Clinton-Gore administration has made America more prosperous, more secure, and more tolerant than it's ever been. Gore has the good sense to continue these policies.

3) A point of personal prejudice. The Bush camp impugns Gore's trustworthiness and decency. But anyone who raises a child as smart, modest, and good-hearted as Karenna Gore Schiff has more than enough character to be president.

4) "Grecians."

Moira Redmond, Fray Editor.

No vote: I'm not a U.S. citizen. If I had a vote, I would vote for Gore because there's no other choice as I have political beliefs that would be viewed as mildly socialist in Europe and hard-line Communist in the United States. (There goes my green card.)

Oswaldo Ribas, Program Manager.

I'm not a U.S. citizen—but if I could, I'd vote for the Green Party, although the Nader Trader business sounds tempting.

I'd like to see the Greens get the 5 percent of the vote that they need to qualify for federal campaign funds and allow them to bootstrap a real alternative to the two traditional parties—even if this means putting up with another half-wit as president for the next four years. As for the argument that Nader is a spoiler: I don't think he owes explanations to the Democrats. There really is no alternative if you want something done about the reduction of defense spending and corporate welfare, curbing the war on drugs, eliminating the death penalty, gun control, energy alternatives to oil, global warming, debt reduction for the Third World, imposing environmental and work-safety regulations on companies that want to export sweatshops to the Third World, and a deluge of issues that are of concern to younger Americans. The two old parties cater only to white octogenarians whose way of seeing the world was shaped during the Cold War. Small wonder, then, that the only issues covered during this campaign should be Social Security, strengthening of defense, tax credits, Hollywood morals, and whether one smirk is more powerful that the ability to say "no" to an intern.

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.

So, Harry Browne in 2000! And in 2004 and 2008 and 2012, if that's what it takes.

Scott Shuger, Senior Writer: Gore.

In 1992 Bill Clinton ran on a middle-class tax cut and staying out of the Balkans. But, once in office, he was wise enough to see the need for deficit reduction and military intervention, and forceful enough to take the country with him. That's the leadership I want out of a president—and right now, I don't see it in either George W. Bush or Al Gore. Now, I don't hold it against Bush that the only public office he's held has been governor under a so-called weak system. Couldn't everybody have said pretty much the same thing about Clinton in '92? And wouldn't it have been snotty? All I know is that Bush has been in charge of a lot more people than I have, and like every other journalist alive, I think I'd make a fine president. But unlike Clinton or John McCain, Bush's never made something out of nothing. I mean, it's not like the Rangers just won their third straight World Series. But Gore has at least been close enough to Clinton's greatness to see how it's done and perhaps when the matter is joined, to see how to do it. I don't know. But I do know this—given his life history, it's just about impossible to see how this would come out of George W. Bush. That's why I'm voting, with hope, for Al Gore.

Judith Shulevitz, New York Editor: Gore.

As a book critic, I put a lot of stock in character, and what I sense in Bush is a mean streak and a swaggering thoughtlessness. These come out in barbed putdowns and remarks to the press that are either all boilerplate or sarcastic parries. Bush's let's-see-if-I-can-get-away-with-this affect once came out as a smirk. Now he bites his lip. I still feel like I'm watching a frat boy in a bar who, if I asked him where the ladies room was, would make a crude remark the minute I turned my back.

By contrast, Gore seems like a grown-up. After a lifetime of public service, he turns out to be pretty good at governing and outrageously bad at campaigning. He keeps at it, though, tearing himself inside out and taking criticism too much to heart. True, this insecurity makes me wonder whether Gore could lead. But I'm impressed by his persistence, which makes up for a lot. And yes, he cogitates on weird stuff. But what I really hold against Bush is that he and his pals are trying to transform the American people—the American media, anyway—into bullies who play "gotcha!" with the geekiest kid in the class.

Laurie Snyder, Copy Editor: Gore.

This election, like in all the presidential elections since the Regan-Mondale race when I could first vote, I'll pull the Democratic lever. Sure, I might like to vote for Nader, at the very least to remind the Democratic Party of their constituents left of center, but I can't bring myself to risk tilting Washington state to Bush. I have plenty of superficial reasons to dislike Gore: how he folds to stuff himself into the mold du jour, his bad imitations of Clintonesque empathy, a speaking style that's painfully overacted. Who cares! There's no earthly way I'd ever vote for Bush—or any other anti-choice Republican, or anti-choice Democrat for that matter. The likelihood of vacant spots coming up on the Supreme Court makes an easy decision even easier. Bush is no choice for me. Vote for Gore!

JoAnne Spencer, Production Assistant: Gore.

Although I'll be the first to admit that my vote isn't really for Al Gore so much as it is against George W Bush. The tide turned for me when Bush admitted that he lacks the experience and expertise needed to make important policy decisions himself. He said that he would rely on his advisers. That troubles me given the sort of people Bush tends to surround himself with. I just don't think it's a good idea to rely on representatives from the oil industry for environmental protection policies or on members of the conservative Christian right for education and judicial appointments.

Chris Suellentrop, Editorial Assistant: Gore.

I confess to being one of the 4,719 Louisianans who voted for Ralph Nader in 1996. Four years ago, a vote for Nader was a negative vote. It was a vote against Clinton, against Dole, and for no one. This year, a vote for Nader is a positive vote, a vote for something. It's a vote for an anti-trade, anti-globalization agenda that is bad for Americans and, yes, bad for the Third World. If there were a centrist third-party alternative, a get-out-of-my-pocketbook-and-out-of-my-bedroom candidate like Jesse Ventura, I'd vote for that candidate. There isn't. (I thought about Harry Browne, but I prefer a kinder, gentler libertarianism.) So I'm voting for Gore. His tax cut is laughable, his education plan is inadequate, and his Social Security plan is shortsighted, but he's the least of the five evils—including Nader—on the D.C. ballot. Nader says a vote for the lesser evil still leaves you with evil at the end of the day. I say if you limit evil, you've done some good.

Erik Tarloff, Contributor: Gore.

I have two sets of reasons. The first is based on general principles. I'm a Democrat, and I therefore prefer the range of policies, the talent pool, and most importantly the judicial candidates from which he will make his choices. Secondly and more specifically, Gore, by virtue of intellect, temperament, experience, and breadth of knowledge, is patently the better-qualified candidate. This one's a no-brainer. Which also, incidentally, is an all too apt description of his opponent.

Inigo Thomas, Contributor.

If I had a vote—and I don't because I'm British—I'd vote for the candidate who could cope with a major gas crisis, which seems inevitable; who could address wealth resentment at home and abroad, which seems likely to intensify; and who might make the governance of the country better, not worse. Though I prefer Gore's ambitions to those of Nader and Bush, it is to his great detriment that he hasn't spoken eloquently about issues he does care about. Should Gore lose, neither he nor his supporters can blame Nader: They can only blame themselves for not being brave enough.

June Thomas, Copy Chief: Gore.

Even after 15 years spent lamenting America's lack of a progressive political alternative, in my first presidential election as a U.S. citizen I can't bring myself to vote for Ralph Nader, though my heart tells me I should. My head tells me that with Washington state too close to call, a vote for Ralph might land Dubya in Washington, D.C. Sure, Gore may have spent eight years as the No. 2 in an administration that failed to deliver universal health-care coverage, to follow through on its election promises to guarantee equal rights to gays and lesbians, or to enact campaign-finance reform. But I can swallow hard, blame that on the Republican Congress, and remind myself that if Gore wins, at least I won't be awake nights wondering which choice-preventing, homo-hating fossil Bush will name to the Supreme Court.

Eliza Truitt, Associate Editor: Gore.

I voted for Gore last week via absentee ballot. And I didn't do it out of a reactive fear of Bush's stupidity or pro-life Supreme Court justices. I'm one of those true believers who actually thinks Gore is fantastic. He's experienced, intelligent, and in all cases more in line with my political beliefs than Bush is. I do wish Gore were against the death penalty and against the drug war, but otherwise I'm with him.

Rob Walker, Contributor: Gore.

I live in Louisiana, which is highly likely to go for Bush, so I had planned to vote "strategically" for Ralph Nader, as I did in 1996 (when I lived in New York), because I think it would be good for America if a third party, more liberal than the New Democrats, added its voice to the national debate. I began to change my mind when Nader, instead of defusing the idiotic attacks on his perfectly legitimate reasons for running, opted to up the idiocy, attacking Gore more than Bush, and suggesting that a Bush win would catalyze liberals. I doubt it, and that's not an endgame that I'm interested in supporting. Now, on the question of why it is that Slate employs a Moneybox columnist who is based in Louisiana and would even consider voting for Nader, I'm afraid you'll have to talk to management.

Jacob Weisberg, Chief Political Correspondent: Gore.

When the race was getting started, I said I expected to be annoyed by everything Gore did in the campaign and then vote for him anyway. He's held up his end of the bargain, and I intend to hold up mine. As a politician, Gore is nearly talentless. As a president, however, I think he would be likely to build on Bill Clinton's most important accomplishments, hewing to a path of fiscal responsibility while pursuing a measured federal activism that would help rebuild public trust in government. In some respects, I think Gore could be better than Clinton. He is more engaged by foreign policy and a more principled internationalist. Gore's sophistication about environmental and technology issues is a significant plus. As for Bush, Christopher Hitchens summed up my view perfectly when he described him as "unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things." A Bush presidency might not be a disaster, but it would surely be an embarrassment.

Marjorie Williams, Contributor: Gore.

I plan to vote for Al Gore. 1) Because I'm a Democrat, and while I can theoretically imagine voting for a Republican candidate for president, I never have; George W. Bush doesn't seem like a good reason to start. 2) Because at heart, between reinventions, Gore is and always has been a moderate, centrist sort of Democrat. I can't think of a major policy area in which I disagree strongly with what I take to be his core inclinations. 3) Because I think he'd make a good president in every realm except the admittedly important one of persuasion. Reports of Gore's record within the Clinton administration suggest an impressively tough-minded guy who understands the presidency and is even prepared to take appropriate risks with his political capital. The worry about Gore, obviously, is that over time we will find him as abrasive and phony in the bully pulpit as he has seemed in this campaign—which matters not because it's the president's job to please or entertain us but because it's human nature to resist sacrificing or doing something difficult on the say-so of someone we'd like to stuff in a locker. It still beats the alternative, in my view, of having as president a man who seems as intellectually incurious as Bush.

James Q. Wilson, Contributor: Bush.

Q will vote for Bush because, in thinking about which interest groups support which candidate, I am distressed that Gore is backed by the leaders of the teachers' unions (who want to preserve the public school monopoly), the trial lawyers (who want to continue to gouge money out of business pockets with claims that in many cases lack any scientific basis), by trade union leaders (who oppose extending free trade), and by public employee union leaders (who want the government to remain big and powerful). And the Clinton-Gore administration backed the election of an Israeli leader who came close to giving away the heart of that beleaguered democracy; now Clinton, instead of befriending Israel, says America should "facilitate" the (nonexistent) "peace process."

Emily Yoffe, Contributor: Gore.

Gore because: the environment, the economy, the courts, funding for family planning here and abroad, stem-cell research. George Bush is indifferent to so much of what the presidency entails: policy, politics, working hard. No matter how good his advisers, a president has to weigh their often competing advice and make his own judgment. Bush either is incapable of or uninterested in informing himself so that he can ask the right questions in order to make independent decisions. Al Gore has proved that he can.