Mickey Kaus, "Kausfiles" blogger: Obama
Michael Kinsley, Founding Editor: Obama, of course
1. I believe in voting the party, not the man or woman. Democrats generally reflect my views better than Republicans.
2. It's important not to ratify failure, and the current Republican administration is a failure.
3. Historically, as I demonstrated in Slate a few weeks ago, Democratic presidents have a better economic record, EVEN BY REPUBLICAN STANDARDS (lower government spending; higher GDP, ignoring distribution questions, etc.). Republican irresponsibility about tax cuts without spending cuts has bankrupted this country. Twice.
Click here to read the rest of Kinsley's entry.
Juliet Lapidos, Assistant Editor: Obama
I'm a big-government liberal who wants universal health care and a sustainable energy policy. So, naturally, I'm backing the Democratic ticket. I don't dislike John McCain, but ever since he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate, I've questioned his judgment. He's old, and she's not qualified. While I'm not smitten with Barack Obama, I'm confident he won't damage our standing in the world and think he might even improve it.
Rachael Larimore, Deputy Managing Editor and Copy Chief: McCain
This is a difficult election for me. But voting for John McCain is an easy choice. He's a man I admire, I agree with many of his policy positions, and, since I am a moderate but loyal Republican, I feel a kind of kinship with him. Barack Obama is an exciting candidate, and I wish I could share the enthusiasm so many Americans feel for him, but I feel like his worldview is Carter-esque, and I fear his economic policies will be, too.
However, I also think an Obama presidency can be a boon for Republicans, and not just because of the havoc a Democratic White House and a Democratic Congress could wreak. I don't hate President Bush like so many do, but even I can say his presidency has been a disappointment. And the Republican-led Congress was a disaster, as McCain pointed out, not in so many words, in his convention speech. I'm hopeful that an Obama victory would be a wakeup call as well as an opportunity—an opportunity for those who believe in limited government, individual freedoms, and free markets (yes, even in this crisis) to regain their influence, to take back the party from the religious right and social conservatives that have gained so much influence. So regardless of what happens on Nov. 4, I won't be too upset. But neither will I be too excited.
James Ledbetter, Editor: The Big Money: Obama
My voting rationale is not strictly economic, but this is what I do for a living, so: The general-election debate over economic policy at times has been substantive, but it has rarely been honest. There was a telling moment in the first debate, when neither candidate was willing to specify which of his economic programs would have to be jettisoned because of the current economic crisis. That, alas, is the noise-to-signal ratios that you get in presidential politics, and so you have to do your own analysis.
Click here to read the rest of Ledbetter's entry.
For all the talk of a divided electorate, it's a bit shocking to be at a point where 80 percent or so of Americans think the country is on the wrong track. Barack Obama's policies, advisers, and style of leadership seem far more likely to offer a decisive shift from the last eight years. As for John McCain, if—with a recession looming, a financial crisis unfolding, and seven-plus years of stagnant income growth on the books—your first instinct is to blame earmarks, that's a problem.
Josh Levin, Associate Editor: Obama
I'm too cynical to believe that Barack Obama is a different kind of politician or that he's any kind of silver bullet for America's problems. (I do, however, like to think of America's problems as a gigantic werewolf. Scary!) But after eight years of George W. Bush, I am heartened by the fact that he seems to be a thoughtful person—someone who will rely on his brain rather than his gut, and someone who will surround himself with smart people and give weight to their opinions. John McCain, by comparison, has a tendency both to act impulsively and to surround himself with the kind of people who insist that he tap Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential nominee. That's my campaign slogan: Obama in '08—He Didn't Pick Palin.
Dahlia Lithwick,Supreme Court Correspondent: Not Voting
I will not vote. I am still Canadian. If I could, I would vote for Barack Obama because I am raggedy from the politics of division. I can't really blame John McCain for dipping into it in recent weeks, but I wish Sarah Palin would have relished it a bit less. We can't fight global terror, repair the economy, or do much of anything in America if we're too busy plotting how to firebomb the neighbors.
Chad Lorenz, Copy Editor: Obama
America cannot return to leading the global community without restoring the legitimacy it had before the war in Iraq and the shameful human rights abuses it has perpetrated since Sept. 11. In addition to successfully ending the war, the next president needs to regain the confidence of our allies, cautiously engage our enemies, and acutely detect emerging international threats. Barack Obama's foreign-policy ideals are rooted in nuanced diplomacy and open-minded reasoning, not arrogance and heavy-handed ultimatums. Coping with the world's latest economic and environmental challenges will require a multilateral approach, and Obama's background shows every sign of respecting that method. He's the candidate I trust far more than anyone to erase the mistakes of the past eight years and reconstitute America's role as a responsible, trustworthy, cooperative global citizen.
Noreen Malone, Executive Assistant: Obama
David Sedaris framed the choice with this metaphor: "Can I interest you in the chicken?" … "Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?" I definitely want the chicken.
Farhad Manjoo, "Technology" Columnist: Obama
This is the third presidential election in which I'll cast a ballot, but only the first time that I'll be voting for someone: The last two times, I was voting against Bush. I'm choosing Obama for one main reason: He's the smarter candidate. I don't just mean he's got smarter policies, though he does. I mean he seems to have the higher IQ. His books and speeches suggest deep intellectual curiosity—a calm, analytical, rational mind of the sort we haven't seen in the White House in years.
I've long admired John McCain; I rooted for him in the 2000 primaries, and I might have picked him over Al Gore in the general that year. I also admired his stance against soft-money political donations and the Bush tax cuts. If that John McCain had been on the ballot this year, I might have thought harder about this vote. But over the last four years, that McCain has transmogrified into exactly the kind of divisive agent of intolerance he once decried, and now I'm terrified at the thought of him in charge.
Chadwick Matlin,Staff Writer: The Big Money:Obama
Until I started writing about the economy, I didn't realize just how bad of a president John McCain would be. Half-baked mortgage plans, a politically motivated silence on the bailout plan, and an obvious lack of understanding about how money works in this country show McCain's economic understanding is not sound. Obama, meanwhile, has offered little brilliance on the economy, but he has displayed competence. Economic competence, a dogged and (at times) brave devotion to full diplomacy, and an impressively managed campaign are all it takes to swing my vote this year. And so I must fulfill my cliché: a young, white, urban twentysomething voting for Barack Obama.
Natalie Matthews, Designer: Obama
Obama's campaign has demonstrated an appreciation and understanding of both design and the power of the Internet, two things I deal with on a daily basis. Also, as someone who uses public transportation and sees the value in it environmentally, fiscally, politically, and socially, I also respond to his policy to "strengthen America's transportation infrastructure."
Melonyce McAfee, Copy Editor: Obama
I think a Barack Obama presidency would improve America's international profile. The Bush administration's proud xenophobia has come to define the U.S. overseas, and McCain and his running mate are perpetuating that wrongheadedness. On the home front, Obama has inspired a return to civic life for many Americans who had given up on the idea that the government could ever represent them and their needs. I hope this spark to mobilization and activism will continue past Election Day. I'm a lifelong Democrat, and many of Obama's policies jibe with my values, so I won't pretend that I ever considered voting for McCain, though I did admire him for being a centrist who could get things done in the Senate. But the religious paternalism and faux folksiness that he's adopted as a last gasp to win the election have killed any respect I ever had for the guy.
Michael Newman, Politics Editor: Obama
If you're truly an undecided voter, as few people are, this is a golden age: You can read all the news and analysis and commentary you can stand, browse the blogosphere, look at polls, examine position papers, watch the debates and various videos, talk with your friends, check in with your mother, etc. And certainly I'm not going to tell you not to do all that stuff. (Check this page often!) But there's such a thing as too much information. For me, the most useful reading of this campaign was two unusually honest and well-written political memoirs: Dreams From My Father and Faith of My Fathers. I liked and admired both John McCain and Barack Obama before reading them, and still do after. But I'm more comfortable with Obama's perspective on politics and life than I am with McCain's.
Timothy Noah, "Chatterbox" Columnist: Obama
It's a point of pride that I managed to get through this election without professing shock at John McCain's supposed defection to the Dark Side. I do not think that McCain, a man of good character who once seemed a plausible candidate for the Democratic ticket, has sold his soul to the devil. Smart liberals like Robert Wright and Josh Marshall say the McCain-Palin ticket has waged the most despicable presidential campaign in modern memory. I doubt they'll continue to believe that much past Nov. 4. McCain-Palin doesn't rank even as the most despicable presidential campaign in 2008. (That would be Hillary Clinton's primary campaign, which is far more susceptible to the accusation that it exploited Obama's race.)
Click here to read the rest of Noah's entry.
Meghan O'Rourke, Culture Critic: Obama
For his charisma, his cautiousness, and his cool. In a time of high stakes, we need someone who can sort out the best course of action without bridling in anger. A candidate who actually nods when his opponent makes a powerful counterargument—as Obama did several times during the last debate—is a rare bird. Of course, Obama is untested in many regards. My main concern about him is this: How will he deal with making an unpopular or tough decision? Can he keep his cool then without losing confidence in himself? I believe so, and that's why he has my vote.