At this magazine, it's Kerry by a landslide!
We asked our staff and contributors: Who are you supporting for president and why? These are their responses. Click here to see who Slate voted for in the 2000 election. Click here to read Editor Jacob Weisberg's explanation of why we're sharing this information with our readers.
Kevin Arnovitz, Fray Editor: Kerry
I'll pull the lever for Kerry, if for nothing else than to defeat the misconception that being contemplative is somehow paralyzing. What's strange is that I'm your classically disaffected Democrat who's been drifting independent in recent years. There's important work to be done—the kind of work that's traditionally been best handled by Democrats, like education and Social Security reform—that's being put off because the party has become lazy. And certain Democrats won't satisfy themselves until they alienate everyone beyond the Free Weeklyites—people who like guns, people who like fries, people who like money. Though I've never been an identity politics kind of guy, my visceral response to the Federal Marriage Amendment this past year truly radicalized me. Watching the president of the United States, the one person in our country whose endorsement can legitimate any initiative, use gay people as a political chew-toy to advance some kind of theological agenda has been the most infuriating and surreal political experience of my citizen life. The president's willingness to turn on a group of Americans demonstrates to me an unthinking disrespect for two of his favorite virtues—freedom and liberty.
Paul Berman, Contributor: Kerry
I'm voting for Kerry, with no great belief that he will be a first-rate president. I cringe a little at where Kerry's line on terror and Iraq has lately ended up. I think that Bush, in his rhetoric about democracy and ideologies of hate, has demonstrated a broader understanding of these matters. But Bush has got to be the most ham-handed president in American history. He is incompetent even at expressing whatever is valid in his larger worldview. The prospect of tumbling down the stairs for four more years has got me scared out of my wits. Better Kerry, then. Besides, I'm not a one-issue voter. On most social and economic issues, I would probably prefer Eugene V. Debs, if he were running and electable. No such luck. So, Kerry, yet again.
Henry Blodget, Contributor: Kerry
Not perfect, but "reality-based."
Paul Boutin, Technology Writer: Kerry
President Bush and I disagree on a lot of things, but I can't shake the feeling we'd get along great as neighbors. I wish I had his folksy charm, his fitness and energy, and his inarticulate clarity—no matter how he fumbles for words, you always know exactly what Bush is trying to say. But while he claims to be a love-your-enemies Christian and a keep-the-government-off-my-back Republican, he and his administration have repeatedly led the country into actions that are neither what Jesus nor the Economist would do. So I'll take a chance on Kerry, but if he wins I'll skip the victory party. Too many of his supporters have proven as divisive, dishonest, and hateful as they imagine their bogeyman Karl Rove to be. And they wonder why people vote for Nader?
Phillip Carter, Military and Legal Affairs Writer:Kerry
I'm casting my vote as a referendum on the Bush national security policies since January 2001. When you pour billions into homeland security without achieving a significant net gain in security, I think there's a problem. When you mislead the country about our reasons for war in Iraq, and then fail to plan effectively for military and strategic victory, you simply don't get to keep your job. When you employ lawyers to eviscerate the rule of law and make America into the world's brigand instead of the world's leader, I don't think you should be allowed to keep your office. When you allow al-Qaida to mutate and evolve into a more lethal and survivable global terror network on your watch, you haven't done your job. Sen. Kerry hasn't fully shown that he will improve on all these fronts, but I do believe he will do better than President Bush.
Bryan Curtis, Deputy Culture Editor: Kerry
John Kerry, for shamelessly unoriginal reasons: a fresh start in (but not abandonment of) Iraq; more stem-cell research; another stab at health-care reform; fiscal sanity; some kind of energy policy; blah-blah-blah. I grew up in Texas, and I realized the other day that if Bush wins a second term, he will have been my governor or president for some 14 consecutive years. Now I know what my grandparents must have felt like around 1943, just as they were entering end-stage Roosevelt.
If Bush wins Tuesday, I'll tip my wide-brimmed hat to Karl Rove, the über-operative, who will have successfully turned two well-credentialed U.S. senators into liars, war criminals, or both. Democrats (especially Texas Democrats) love to wail about his under-handedness, but there's not an honest one that doesn't wish he was on their team.
Sara Dickerman, Food Writer:Kerry
I'm voting for Kerry, because Bush et al., have led us into a poorly executed war that has isolated us from the world, fixing the very hearts and minds we hoped to win over against us. Because, as if the costs of the war were not enough, the country is bearing the burden of massive tax cuts for the rich. And because I'd like to see the Social Security, due process, freedom of speech, and the right to choose when and if to have a family preserved for my newborn child and all children.
Daniel Drezner, Political Scientist and Contributor:Kerry
This is a foreign policy election for me, and I've never been less enthused about my choice of major party candidates—it's like being forced to decide whether The Matrix: Reloaded or The Matrix: Revolutions is the better movie. However, for reasons I largely spelled out in my last essay for Slate and fleshed out here, here, and here, I've reluctantly decided to back Kerry. As a Republican, I remain completely unconvinced that Kerry understands the limits of multilateral diplomacy. As a social scientist, however, I can't vote for a president with this track record on foreign policy who doesn't believe that what he believes about international relations might, just might, be wrong.
Jonathan Epstein, Software Development Engineer/Program Manager: Kerry
My biggest complaint about the current administration is its tendency to ignore the separation of church and state. I also have more confidence that John Kerry will help put a stop to the isolationism that this administration is promoting.
Gretchen Evanson, Office Manager: Kerry
I'm voting for Kerry/Edwards because I'd like a change from all the meaningless rhetoric and lack of plans for the future.
Mia Fineman, Curator and Art Writer:Kerry
I'll be voting for Kerry, for all the reasons you'd expect to hear from a liberal, artsy, underpaid member of the "reality-based community"—but particularly because my reality is a secular one and I don't want to see our government further colonized by the fundamentalist Christian right.
Kris Fritz, Software Development Engineer:Kerry
If Bush gets re-elected, I might have to change citizenship and move to another country. I believe Kerry has what it takes to put this country back on track with respect to both foreign and domestic issues. There is also a high probability that the next president will be selecting a chairman of the Federal Reserve and several Supreme Court justices, and I don't want George Bush making those choices. The only downside (in my opinion) to not re-electing Bush would be no more "Bushisms"on Slate.
Richard Ford, Law Professor and Contributor: Kerry
I will vote for John Kerry for president. I suppose my reasons are typical: I think Bush's polices, both foreign and domestic, have been spectacularly bad for the nation. The Bush administration exploited the tragedy of 9/11 in order to pursue a war in Iraq that was entirely unrelated to that event. In its zeal to invade Iraq, the Bush administration has alienated many of our allies and tarnished the reputation of the United States. It misled the American people and our allies about the rationale for the war and it radically underestimated the difficulty of the post-invasion occupation. Domestically, Bush has cynically used 9/11 to create a domestic security bureaucracy that invades the civil liberties of Americans while doing little to make us safer. He has ruined the finances of the nation, running up one of the largest deficits in history. Again, Bush points to 9/11—the scapegoat for every bad decision the administration makes—but in fact the cause of the deficit spending is the war in Iraq and the administration's tax cuts—questionable even in a time of peace but staggeringly irresponsible in a time of crisis. We need a change.
David Greenberg, Contributor: Kerry
I'm voting for Kerry. He's intelligent, honorable, able, hard-working and (shh!) liberal, which means I agree with him on most of the issues that matter. But politics aside, I'd vote for practically anyone instead of Bush, because I don't think he really believes in democracy. Why do I say this? Let me refer you, if I might, to what I wrote about Bush over the summer in The New Yorker and the Washington Monthly.
I am assuming for now that this is a single-issue election. There is one's subjective vote, one's objective vote, and one's ironic vote. Subjectively, Bush (and Blair) deserve to be re-elected because they called the enemy by its right name and were determined to confront it. Objectively, Bush deserves to be sacked for his flabbergasting failure to prepare for such an essential confrontation. Subjectively, Kerry should be put in the pillory for his inability to hold up on principle under any kind of pressure. Objectively, his election would compel mainstream and liberal Democrats to get real about Iraq.
The ironic votes are the endorsements for Kerry that appear in Buchanan's anti-war sheet The American Conservative, and the support for Kerry's pro-war candidacy manifested by those simple folks at MoveOn.org. I can't compete with this sort of thing, but I do think that Bush deserves praise for his implacability, and that Kerry should get his worst private nightmare and have to report for duty.
Jim Holt, Contributor: Kerry
Let me cite one relatively marginal reason: Kerry opposes the death penalty. In doing so, he passes a test of rationality and moral decency that every other Republican and Democratic presidential candidate has failed for at least the last three elections.
Margo Howard, Advice Columnist: Kerry
John Kerry. It is time for somebody smart again. And by voting for Kerry I will feel I have done my part to get Cheney, Rummy, and Wolfowitz out of the catbird's seat.
Fred Kaplan, Contributor:Kerry
I'm voting for Kerry. Bush has done too much damage to America's reputation in the world. His view of the world is naive and, too often, wrong. His victory would mean a victory for the most cynical politics practiced by any president in my memory. I also generally admire Kerry.
Jon Katz, Contributor:Kerry
I do not like politics, and especially hate being squeezed by the left-right dichotomy—the Crossfire effect—that makes contemporary politics so obnoxious and contrary to Jefferson's idea of a real mixing of ideas. In and out of media, it seems we no longer talk to others but only to ourselves. Often, I simply do not vote. But I decided to vote for John Kerry during the first presidential debate because his approach to the war in Iraq seemed sensible and thoughtful. I felt that President Bush—who responded bravely and well to 9/11, I thought—appeared to now be incapable of moderating or altering his views, admitting error, acknowledging dissenters, or engaging in a real conversation or debate. He also seems to me to be mixing politics and religion, in this case talking to God rather than listening to advisers, foreign leaders, or voters. This is a serious flaw in a U.S. president, especially during a war.
Mickey Kaus, Contributor: Kerry
I'm voting for Kerry, mainly because I think Bush is prosecuting the fight against terrorism in a way that will make us dramatically less safe unless we have a conspicuous change at the top. Even if you supported the war in Iraq, now is the time to a) try to preserve our gains in that country and Afghanistan while we b) let the world calm down so that fewer people hate us (and hence fewer people try to come and kill us).
I don't expect Kerry to be a successful president in any other respect. It doesn't matter.
David Bradley Kenner, Intern: Bush
I'm voting for Bush. I don't want, or find it necessary, to defend every piece of his record. The simple fact is that he is the only candidate who has had the courage to envision a long-term solution to the danger of terrorism—the liberalization and democratization of the Middle East. John Kerry, on the other hand, cannot manage to think beyond the next political obstacle. Only one candidate has the courage to keep America safe in these dangerous days. Four more years!
Kathleen Kincaid, Design Director/Lead Program Manager:Kerry
On Nov. 2, I will cast my ballot for John Kerry. Is he a strong candidate? No. Do I agree with all his positions? No. Does he truly represent me? No. Is this a reactionary "anyone but Bush" vote? On some levels it is, but I've decided he's good enough, we agree on enough, and I trust him. I want him to appoint the next Supreme Court justices, continue to support legislation to protect the environment, address the deficit created by the current administration, get our troops out of Iraq, and explore civil unions as a viable option in this country for same-sex and opposite-sex partnerships similar to some of those found in European countries. Kerry is an intelligent and compassionate human being, which is more than I can say for the current administration.
Laura Kipnis, Contributor: Kerry
Bush gave us Abu Ghraib, appoints theocrats and neo-segregationists to the federal bench, blocks efforts to raise the minimum wage (plus making 5 million to 8 million workers ineligible for overtime pay) while funneling tax cuts and corporate giveaways to the ultra-rich. Kerry will protect the separation of church and state, raise the minimum wage, and undo the Bush-inflicted budget disaster. Bush used his daddy's connections to duck a war he endorsed (as long as other people were fighting it, of course), the same lying, swaggering, cowardice that's been the hallmark of his foreign policy ever since. The rest of the world sees Bush for exactly who he is, which unfortunately ups the danger level for all of us.
Steven Landsburg, EconomicWriter:Bush
If George Bush had chosen the racist David Duke as a running mate, I'd have voted against him, almost without regard to any other issue. Instead, John Kerry chose the xenophobe John Edwards as a running mate. I will therefore vote against John Kerry.
Duke thinks it's imperative to protect white jobs from black competition. Edwards thinks it's imperative to protect American jobs from foreign competition. There's not a dime's worth of moral difference there. While Duke would discriminate on the arbitrary basis of skin color, Edwards would discriminate on the arbitrary basis of birthplace. Either way, bigotry is bigotry, and appeals to base instincts should always be repudiated.
Bush's reckless spending and disregard for the truth had me almost ready to vote for Kerry—until Kerry picked his running mate. When the real David Duke ran against a corrupt felon for governor of Lousiana, the bumper stickers read, "Vote for the crook. It's important." Well, I'm voting for the reckless spendthrift. It's important again.
Rachael Larimore, Copy Editor:Bush
As a fiscally conservative and socially moderate Republican, it's not always easy to support President Bush. I applaud his resoluteness in combating terrorism and, yeah, I love tax cuts, but he spends too much money and he's wrong on gay marriage. But Kerry will spend too much money and he's only slightly less wrong on gay marriage. So, what else? I disagree with Kerry on issues like taxes, Social Security, abortion, health care, and trade. Nothing, though, is more important than Iraq and terrorism, and Bush "gets it" better than Kerry. Removing Saddam was right—as Tony Blair said, "history will forgive" an absence of WMD—whether we had U.N. approval or not. The insurgency is deeply troubling, but I don't trust Kerry to improve the situation. The only fresh idea in his four-point plan for Iraq—the promise to bring in more allies—has been rendered moot by statements from France and Germany (talk about a coalition of the bribed and the coerced!) that they would not send troops. His convention-speech promise to "respond" to every terrorist attack combined with his "global test" comment in the first debate, convey a certain squishiness toward threats to our nation. Mock me as a security mom if you will, but I'm sticking with Bush.
Josh Levin, Assistant Editor: Kerry
If my absentee ballot arrives in time, I'm voting for Kerry because I'm a Democrat who's concerned about the Supreme Court, the environment, taxes, and the separation of church and state. I also think that if Kerry gets elected, the world will be just a bit less dangerous, and I'm all for baby steps away from mutual assured destruction.
Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor: Neither
I won't be voting. I am a Canadian citizen. Which may explain, to some extent, why I am a Kerry supporter. President Bush seems to have lost sight of the fact that what makes Americans both strong and free is the rule of law; not the rule of the president. Yet this administration has tended to treat both international and constitutional law as a set of polite suggestions to be ignored (at the best of times) and as an impediment to his policy goals (at the worst). From the insistence that the vice president's guest list at secret energy policy meetings could not be probed, to the unilateral decision to suspend the Geneva Conventions for some prisoners, to the (inevitable, at that point) memos from his staff suggesting that nothing is torture unless it leads to organ failure, to the events at Abu Ghraib, which could only have taken place under a president who had loosened the rules on torture, this administration has maintained two staggering legal stances throughout the War on Terror: (i) That it can and should stake out the most radical and extreme legal positions possible (the president's power to detain "enemy combatants" is utterly unchecked and unlimited; U.S. courts have no jurisdiction over anything that happens at Guantanamo Bay); and (ii) that laws are a luxury of peacetime, but by definition a hindrance to any war effort.
There is a vitally important conversation to be had in this country, about balancing security against freedom. That conversation has happened in the courts, in the media, and in the academy. But it has never interested this president at all, who seems to be increasingly of the view that any freedoms—of speech, protest, or due process, make everyone less safe.
Scott Moore, General Manager of the MSN News and Information Division:Kerry
I voted for Bush/Cheney in 2000 because I believed they would implement better economic policies than Gore would have. And frankly, I couldn't stand the thought of being lectured by Professor Gore for four years. As a business person, I judge job performance on the basis of results and I hold people accountable for their commitments. After four years Dick & W, I have just two words for you: "You're fired!"
The administration's record is an utter failure. Its litany of sins include a net loss of U.S. jobs, an anemic business recovery and record oil prices, explosion of the budget deficit, alienated allies in Europe, a disastrous adventure in Iraq entered into on false pretenses without a credible plan for winning the peace, and failure to kill or capture OBL. On top of that we've had to endure the disgraceful spectacles of Bush boasting "mission accomplished" (uh, no); Cheney equating a vote for Kerry with a vote for terror (gee, that's subtle); and a president seemingly unable to acknowledge reality, let alone change policy in the face of setbacks (inflexibility is anathema to leadership).
The extent to which Bush/Cheney has made fear of terror the centerpiece of their re-election campaign is truly pathetic. Great American leaders don't emphasize the negative in the world; they emphasize America's values, its history and its capacity for doing good works at home and abroad. These times demand strong positive leadership. I don't know if John Kerry can provide it, but I'm certain George W. Bush hasn't and won't. In a time of war, I'm ready to give a man who voluntarily and bravely served his country in combat and in the Senate a chance.
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.
Josh Payton, Interactive Designer:David Cobb
I'm going to vote for David Cobb. Let's face it. Both Kerry and Bush are liars and they're both on the take. Neither one of them have my best interests in mind. Why should I feel satisfied because I get to pick between one scumbag and another? Democracy in action! No thanks.
Nader ... It's like he's trying to become a talk show host. Maybe he's just been looking for publicity because he's trying to nail that Tonight Show gig.
I was thinking about voting for Michael Badnarik because he seems to have the right idea, but I'm not completely sold on the Libertarian platform. The Libertarian Party is already looking to get a million votes this election. I'd rather help the Greens.
Cobb seems like an intelligent, well-meaning guy. I like what the Green Party is all about. I hope the party keeps growing. Washington state, where I live, is pretty safely blue so there's no real danger of George W. Bush winning it. Cobb's probably out of his depth, but it would give me great joy to see him give the bastards a run for their money. Put it on television. Make it a reality show. He might just be crazy enough to be brilliant.
Jill Hunter Pellettieri, Assistant Editor:Kerry
I'm voting for Kerry—he's in many ways the antithesis of Bush. Kerry understands that there is more than one side to every issue (admittedly, sometimes to a fault), and at the same time, he exhibits the poise and intelligence necessary to be a decisive leader. I fear what another four years of Bush's myopic worldview would bring to our country and the world.
David Plotz, Deputy Editor:Kerry
I am voting for John Kerry. I admire President Bush's quick understanding that America must defeat the evil of Islamic radicalism, and his resolve to fight our enemies wherever they threaten us. Aside from that, his presidency has been a catastrophe. The Bush administration has suppressed inconvenient facts, sabotaged American science, undone a decade of fiscal restraint by spending profligately and giving tax breaks to all the wrong people, rolled over for the worst crony capitalists and lobbyists, and squandered America's moral (and actual) authority in the world.
Charlie Powell, Illustrator: Kerry
I'm voting for Kerry. Bush and Co. stole the 2000 election. Bush lied to the country about WMD in Iraq. He ordered an attack on a sovereign nation, ignoring the United Nations. As I write this, 1,109 American soldiers are dead. Thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women, and children are dead. Not to mention the thousands of wounded Iraqis and Americans, and others dead and wounded from the "coalition of the willing." By the end of the year we will have spent $150 billion on this mess. Meanwhile health care, schools (No Child Left a Dime), and the poor in our country suffer the consequences. George Bush is a disgrace, and why anyone would decide to vote for him is beyond me.
William Saletan, Chief Political Correspondent:Kerry
Here's what I wrote about Bush when we disclosed our votes four years ago: "He's shallow, obtuse, and proud of it. He's disdainful of reflection and indifferent to work. ... 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."
Looks like I was wrong about Congress.
Jack Shafer, Editor at Large:Michael Badnarik
Every since I became eligible to vote in 1972, I've cast my ballot for the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate. In 1972, the candidate was philosophy professor John Hospers, who I wrote in because he wasn't on the Michigan ballot.
A parade of numbskulls and geniuses have run for president on the Libertarian ticket since then: an oil company lawyer, the heir to Laura Ingalls Wilder's estate, a party gadfly, a member of Congress, a member of the Alaska House of Representatives, and a professional gold bug (twice). This year the nomination went to Michael Badnarik, another party activist, who won on the third ballot. I've already cast my absentee ballot in his favor.
Gerald Shargel, Contributor:Kerry
As a criminal defense lawyer, I am voting for John Kerry, among other reasons, because I cannot abide the Ashcroftian brand of "justice" that curtails civil rights and constitutional protections. Kerry seems to respect due process.
Lee Smith, Contributor:Bush
The Americans who say they are ashamed Bush is our president would no doubt be surprised that many ordinary Arabs actually like George W. Bush. Without any social, economic, or political space to create their own lives, they see the world the way he does: Radical Arab politics and the regimes that nourish them have only produced despair and exported terror; if that doesn't change, both Americans and Arabs are in for worse. As for the other reasons Washington took us to war in Iraq, the bad WMD intelligence relayed to the U.N. doesn't bug me. A much more serious issue is that the president did not explain to the American electorate some of the other reasons we're there, which is one reason why it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to realize them, like: 1) rearrange the oil equation so that Saudi Arabia had less leverage against U.S. demands to take on their homegrown jihadists; 2) prove that the United States can sustain successful military operations in the Middle East; 3) establish a presence bordering Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. For violating a basic principle of our politics and not selling this plan to the American public, the president should lose his job—but not to John Kerry. The problem isn't that Kerry doesn't really have "a plan" besides his junior-year abroad version of multilateralism, but that the people who would run his foreign policy do have a program. For close to three years White House critics, including many likely members of a Kerry foreign policy team, have claimed our Middle East policy is on course for catastrophe, without ever questioning what role the "realism" they want to restore to foreign policy played in 9/11. I know it is narrow-minded to base my vote on Middle East policy, but it is also a domestic issue since my hometown New York will continue to be a high-value terrorist target until jihadists are killed where they live, rather than where most of my friends and family live. I did not vote for Bush in 2000. I am this year.
Laurie Snyder, Copy Chief: Kerry
Kerry, Kerry, Kerry! Another four years with Bush-Cheney at the helm is a terrifying prospect.
Mark Alan Stamaty, Illustrator: Kerry
Because I believe Bush is arrogant, ill-informed, reckless, and politically uncompassionate and unwise in his policies that favor the rich and ignore many important concerns.
Mike Steinberger, Wine Writer: Kerry
I will be voting for John Kerry, and not simply because he and the missus apparently have a wine cellar that I would enjoy plundering. In contrast to most of his supporters, I actually like Kerry. Sure, he can be long-winded, pompous, and evasive, but I'm not aware of too many politicians who aren't similarly afflicted. I detect a decency about Kerry that I find appealing, and I think he might just surprise people. But like most Kerry supporters, I plan to vote for him mainly because I want George Bush evicted from the White House. Quite apart from his calamitous domestic policies, Bush screwed up the one thing he, and we, couldn't afford to screw up—Iraq (a war I supported). Bush has spent a lifetime failing upward; he needs to be taken down for this failure.
Dana Stevens, Television Writer: Kerry
I tried to think of a way to write this answer that wouldn't sound embarrassingly earnest and outraged, but the hell with it. This year, that's exactly what I am, so let's go with it: I'm voting for Kerry because the current president has done absolutely nothing to earn my vote in the past four years. His domestic policy is nonexistent (except for the shameless upward redistribution of wealth) and his foreign policy is disastrous and deadly. He and his cabal of gnarled trolls have taken our great country (not to mention all of the Middle East) down a path that it's possible no election will ever be able to fix.
At first Kerry seemed like a default choice—I didn't see why he had emerged from the pack of Democratic hopefuls. But as the campaign's progressed, he's won me over. Like Al Gore, he comes off as a stiff, pompous policy wonk, but I actually kind of like that in a candidate—it shows that they actually like sitting down and thinking about all the boring stuff you need to know in order to run a country. Since when did the job of president stop requiring a résumé?
But most of all, I'm voting for Kerry so that every time I turn on the TV (which I have to do a lot for my job) I don't risk having to look at that whiny, pusillanimous face and listen to that fake cowboy drawl.
Seth Stevenson, Contributor:Kerry
I'm voting for Kerry. The Bush administration frigging TERRIFIES me. It's not that I hate them. It's just that I think they're deranged and incompetent. They literally make me fear for the fate of the world. (Granted, Bush might be much more fun to have beers with. But I'm told he quit drinking.)
Chris Suellentrop, Deputy Washington Bureau Chief: Kerry
I was ambivalent about the Iraq war before the invasion, and I ultimately decided that if you're ambivalent about war you should be against it. The president and this administration apparently feel otherwise. They've put the burden of proof on peace rather than war. Their disdain for the global institutions that have projected American power overseas for 60 years has undermined not just our country's hard-earned reputation and moral authority but our hard-earned might. Their disregard for the Geneva Conventions is shameful and a dangerous international precedent. On the domestic side, Kerry seems a little too eager to spend taxpayer dollars, but I take his pledges of—if not his instincts for—restraint as a reason for guarded optimism. More important, on that score, he can't be any worse than Bush. Besides, this is a one-issue election for me. I don't hate President Bush. I think he's well-intentioned and a good man. He's just not a good president.
Maureen Sullivan, Copy Editor: Kerry
George W. Bush is not especially smart, and worse, he's not intellectually curious. The leader of the free world should be both. If that's not enough reason to vote against him (though I'm voting for Kerry as much as against Bush; unlike Gore, he has surprised me by being a much better alternative than I ever imagined), even Republicans consider him embarrassing. Said one friend whose husband was going to apply for a job at the White House, "I don't want to be a White House widow, especially not for this White House." I don't especially believe Bush went to war for oil, nor that Saddam was not at all a threat, but I also don't believe that, by adding to the deficit tremendously or lobbying to drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he puts America's best interests first—just the best interests of a very select few. Not being one of those few, he won't get my vote.
June Thomas, West Coast Editor:Kerry
I've already voted for John Kerry. I wish he wasn't so happy to keep me in a separate but unequal category of civil rights, and I'm concerned by his vague promises to "internationalize" the war on terror (it'll take more than speaking their language to persuade the French to do their part, for example). However, I admire his record of service, and I believe the economy, the environment, science, and the Supreme Court will be safer with him in the White House.
Louisa Herron Thomas, Intern:Kerry
I can be as bull-headed as they come, but I know how important it is to admit when you're wrong. Strength isn't defined by stubbornness; it's the willingness to hold people—and oneself—accountable. It's a lesson that Kerry seems to understand, and that Bush refuses to learn. I wish Kerry would speak in declarative sentences; I wish he would prioritize changing our attitudes about energy and the environment; I wish he didn't seem so opportunistic. But far more so, I wish I didn't fear for the safety and health of myself, my country, and my planet. Under Bush, I do.
Julia Turner, Assistant Editor:Kerry
Kerry's election-year straddles have left me cold. If I hear him say "Marriage is between a man and a woman" again, I may start coughing up ice cubes. But I think Bush is bad for the country and the world—and for me. He has put my lungs at risk. He has put my reproductive rights at risk. He has put my retirement at risk. He has put my friends at risk, by sending them to Iraq on false pretenses. He has put all of our lives at risk: by neglecting homeland security; by ignoring al-Qaida, North Korea and Iran; and by lighting geopolitical fires, rather than putting them out. Plus I don't like him. He's unbearably cocksure. I'm voting for Kerry.
Garry Trudeau, Contributor:Kerry
Eric Umansky, Contributor: Kerry
Many of those who support President Bush talk about his "grand vision": The "transformational power of liberty," as the president says, which is the "the best antidote to terror." I support that vision. If only Bush did too. With the partial exceptions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the president has not taken strong stands for democracy. Not in Pakistan, not in Libya, not in Egypt, not in Tunisia, not in Uzbekistan, and definitely not in Russia. To be fair, there's only one country in which I'm confident Kerry would actually push to improve things like governance, transparency, and accountability: the United States. That's good enough for my vote.
Jacob Weisberg, Editor:Kerry
I remain totally unimpressed by John Kerry. Outside of his opposition to the death penalty, I've never seen him demonstrate any real political courage. His baby steps in the direction of reform liberalism during the 1990s were all followed by hasty retreats. His Senate vote against the 1991 Gulf War demonstrates an instinctive aversion to the use of American force, even when it's clearly justified. Kerry's major policy proposals in this campaign range from implausible to ill-conceived. He has no real idea what to do differently in Iraq. His health-care plan costs too much to be practical and conflicts with his commitment to reducing the deficit. At a personal level, he strikes me as the kind of windbag that can only emerge when a naturally pompous and self-regarding person marinates for two decades inside the U.S. Senate. If elected, Kerry would probably be a mediocre, unloved president on the order of Jimmy Carter. And I won't have a second's regret about voting for him. Kerry's failings are minuscule when weighed against the massive damage to America's standing in the world, our economic future, and our civic institutions that would likely result from a second Bush term.
Owen West, War Stories Contributor: Bush Al Gore stumbled because he did not know who he was. Now the Democrats have tapped a dyslexic version of Gore. Though Gore resembled a kid who somehow snuck past the height requirement on a lurching emotional roller coaster, he chose correctly under political pressure. He voted for the Gulf War resolution, was a vehement supporter of welfare reform, and selected an admirable moderate (and a hawk) as a running mate. Kerry has the same introspective vertigo but his track record after Feb. 28, 1969, stinks. Bush's handling of Iraq—not the decision to go to war but its aftermath—makes my toes curl. The thought of Kerry running a global war makes me want to chop them off. I have similar feelings about the economy. I'll take McCain. Oops, he and Lieberman were scorched by the wings. So I'll take Bush and ham-handed conviction over calculated cleverness. (If this smacks more of anti-Kerry than pro-Bush consider it 2 cents to balance the scale—the Democrat votes here are sure to be largely anti-Bush.)
Owen West, War Stories Contributor: Bush
Al Gore stumbled because he did not know who he was. Now the Democrats have tapped a dyslexic version of Gore. Though Gore resembled a kid who somehow snuck past the height requirement on a lurching emotional roller coaster, he chose correctly under political pressure. He voted for the Gulf War resolution, was a vehement supporter of welfare reform, and selected an admirable moderate (and a hawk) as a running mate. Kerry has the same introspective vertigo but his track record after Feb. 28, 1969, stinks. Bush's handling of Iraq—not the decision to go to war but its aftermath—makes my toes curl. The thought of Kerry running a global war makes me want to chop them off. I have similar feelings about the economy. I'll take McCain. Oops, he and Lieberman were scorched by the wings. So I'll take Bush and ham-handed conviction over calculated cleverness. (If this smacks more of anti-Kerry than pro-Bush consider it 2 cents to balance the scale—the Democrat votes here are sure to be largely anti-Bush.)
Robert Wright, Contributor: Kerry
He's a long way from being the Messiah, but at least he's not the anti-Christ.
Correction Nov. 1, 2004:Due to an editing error, Christopher Hitchens' entry was originally mislabeled as an endorsement of John Kerry. As Hitchens explains here, he did not intend his contribution as a statement of support for either candidate. Our apologies to Hitchens for this mistake. ( Return to the corrected sentence.)
Photograph of John Kerry on the Slate home page by Brian Snyder/Reuters.