Robert Neubecker, Illustrator: Kerry
I registered Democrat this time but I have been a registered Republican and have voted for Republicans in the past based on policy, mostly economic. I am 50, have two small children, and am concerned about the future and America's place in history. My family has buried men on both sides of the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. I believe that my country is a good place and that Americans almost always try to do the right thing.
I am voting for Kerry because I believe he will extend Clinton's policies of fiscal responsibility. I am voting against Bush because I believed Colin Powell and backed the war as I didn't wish to see Osama Bin Laden with Iraqi-supplied WMD. As events have unfolded, I have come to believe that nearly every decision the Bush administration has made has been wrong. First, deciding to invade rather than contain Iraq—we contained the Soviet Union for 50 years—and then to abandon the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force and to use too few troops when we did invade. I also reject the Bush administration's arrogant unilateralism in contrast to his father; its lack of planning; its amazing belief that conquerors would be received as liberators; what happened at Abu Ghraib prison; and the list of mistakes that compounds daily with the body bags. I don't know what John Kerry will do, but I have confidence that he and the U.S. military can manage this war better.
My other concern is social. As an Episcopalian Christian raised on love and tolerance I am deeply troubled by the ideology of the "Christian" right wing that Bush seems to represent. I don't like the hatred abroad in my country, first directed against Clinton and now against anyone who disagrees with the present administration. I find this un-American in the deepest sense of the word. Finally, as an illustrator, I will vote for Kerry because he is far easier to draw.
Timothy Noah, Senior Writer: Kerry
Sen. John Kerry is the least appealing candidate the Democrats have nominated for president in my lifetime. I'm 46, so that covers Kennedy, Johnson, Humphrey, McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, and Gore. McGovern, Mondale, and Dukakis get the worst press in this bunch, but I liked all three of them and still do. I can't pretend to like John Kerry. He's pompous, he's an opportunist, and he's indecisive. Although I'm impressed by Kerry's combat record in Vietnam, I can't suppress the uncharitable suspicion that what drew him there wasn't patriotism so much as a preppy passion for physical challenge and the urge to buff his future political resume.
Still, I'm voting for Kerry. Two main reasons:
1) The Iraq war. Its main justifications were either mistaken (belief in the presence of dangerous weapons) or untruthful (the cynical claim that Iraq had something to do with 9/11). The war made it more difficultto track down al-Qaida's top leaders, who continue to plotdeadly attacks against this country. That Osama Bin Laden remains at large more than three years after the 9/11 attacks is an insult to the memory of the nearly 3,000 people he killed that day. Iraq may yet end up better off than it was under Saddam Hussein. But it isn't better off now, and that's largely the fault of President Bush's perverse refusal to plan for a postwar occupation. Anyway, the question really shouldn't be, "Is Iraq better off?" It should be "Are we better off?" I think the answer is pretty clearly, "no."
2) The deficit. Bush took the balanced budget handed him by President Clinton and turned it into a $415 billion deficit. The recession would have occurred under any president, but it took Republican ingenuity to use the recession as an opportunity to enact long-term tax cuts aimed primarily at the wealthy. (For a tax cut to stimulate economic growth during a recession, it needs to be short-term and aimed primarily at the middle class—which puts that money into the economy right away through spending—as opposed to the rich, who are likelier to save their windfall.) The inheritance tax, a tax none of us will ever have to pay on money we earn, even if we're rich, will be eliminated entirely within a few years, perhaps forever. As the economic journalist Daniel Altman has demonstrated, it is now the conscious (if unacknowledged) policy of the United States to eliminate taxes on capital and shift it onto labor. That enrages me.
Kerry may rate a C-minus, but a C-minus beats an F.
Meghan O'Rourke, Culture Editor: Kerry
I plan to vote for John Kerry and John Edwards. Kerry may not be quick with the quips, but he appears to struggle with the contradictions in his beliefs. I admire his opposition to the death penalty, among other things. But I'm not voting for Kerry just because I'm on his side of the fence on many policy issues. I'm voting for Kerry because he seems to listen to the opinions of others when he's making decisions, and it seems to me that this will in fact help America to be more secure in the world, not less so; at the very least, it will help America seem American to me again.