VOTING FOR PRESIDENT IS A LOT LIKE SEX--and not just because it takes place once every four years in the solitude of a semi-private booth. Both are intensely personal activities that nonetheless can have profound public consequences. We might add that both often involve drug-and-alcohol-fueled delusions and morning-after feelings of guilt, shame, and recrimination.
As Campaign 2004 entered its home stretch, we asked a variety of policy wonks, journalists, thinkers, and other public figures in the reason universe to reveal for whom they were voting this fall, for whom they pulled the lever last time around, their most embarrassing presidential vote, and their favorite president of all time. Their answers, as of late August, follow.
Contributing Editor Bagge is best known as author of the alternative comic book Hate.
2004 vote: If it looks like my home state could go either way by Election Day, I'll vote for John Kerry. Otherwise I'll vote for the Libertarian Party's candidate, Michael Badnarik. That's been my M.O. every election year, since the Democratic candidate usually strikes me as the lesser of two evils (if not by much).
2000 vote: Harry Browne.
Most embarrassing vote: Every time I've voted for a major-party candidate I've felt embarrassed. I vaguely recall voting in '88 for Michael Dukakis, whose only positive attribute was that his last name wasn't Bush (as is the case with John F. Kerry).
Favorite president: George Washington, for actually refusing to assume as much power as he could have gotten away with. I can't think offhand of another president that could be said about.
Bailey is reason's science correspondent.
2004 vote: I'm undecided between Republican George W. Bush and Libertarian Michael Badnarik. Bush has been a great disappointment. But Kerry will be even worse--raising taxes, overregulating, and socializing more of medicine. What to do?
2000 vote: George W. Bush. I couldn't possibly have voted for Gore since he dislikes me personally. Besides, I was presciently worried (you can ask my wife) about a popular vote/electoral vote mismatch.
Most embarrassing vote: George McGovern, 1972. I was 18 and thought I was a socialist.
Favorite president: George Washington. The man spurned being made king and stepped peacefully down from office.
JOHN PERRY BARLOW
Barlow is a songwriter for the Grateful Dead and other bands, the co-founder and vice chair of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a Berkman Fellow at Harvard Law School.
2004 vote: I'm voting for John Kerry, though with little enthusiasm. This is only because I would prefer almost anything to another four years of George W. Bush. I don't believe the Constitution, the economy, or the environment can endure another Bush administration without sustaining almost irreparable damage.
2000 vote: John Hagelin of the Natural Law Party. I discovered, in the voting booth, that a friend of mine was his vice presidential candidate. I couldn't bring myself to vote for Bush, Gore, or Nader and had intended to cast no presidential vote.
Most embarrassing vote: I'm embarrassed for my country that in my entire voting life, there has never been a major-party candidate whom I felt I could vote for. All of my presidential votes, whether for George Wallace, Dick Gregory, or John Hagelin, have been protest votes.
Favorite president: Jefferson, who defined, in his works and in his person, just about everything I love about America.
Bovard is author of The Bush Betrayal (Palgrave Macmillan) and seven other books.
2004 vote: I will probably vote for Badnarik, the Libertarian Party candidate. Both of the major-party candidates brazenly flaunt their contempt for the U.S. Constitution. Regardless of who wins in November, the U.S. likely will have a lousy president for the next four years.
2000 vote: I abstained.
Most embarrassing vote: I voted for Gerald Ford in 1976. He was not that embarrassing, compared to Jimmy Carter. And compared to George W. Bush, Ford was verbally graceful.
Favorite president: It might be a coin toss between Washington and Jefferson. Washington set a magnificent example of self-restraint, protecting the new nation from both his own power lust and unnecessary wars (despite foolish popular demands). Jefferson masterfully reined in the federal government from the tyrannical Alien and Sedition Act persecutions that John Adams launched.
Brand is the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog and the Long Now Foundation. He is the author of, among other books, The Media Lab (Viking) and How Buildings Learn (Penguin).
2004 vote: Kerry. He's knowledgeable enough and appears to do well in crunches. He has the skills and connections to begin to undo the damage of the Bush years. He's highly ambitious, which is fine with me. And he personally killed a man who was trying to kill him and his crew. You could also say he personally attacked a government that was trying to kill his generation. Those actions take sand. Too bad they won't come up in the debates.
2000 vote: Al Gore.
Most embarrassing vote: Lyndon Johnson.
Favorite president: Theodore Roosevelt for a fine blend of intellect and zzzzzest, tied with Bill Clinton for the same reasons.
Carey stars in Drew Carey's Green Screen Show, beginning October 7 on the WB.
2004 vote: Quit pretending that it matters, would you? Can you vote for all the nefarious cabals that really run the world ? No. So fuck it.
2000 vote: I voted Libertarian, for all the good it did me.
Most embarrassing vote: Is it considered embarrassing to cast a vote out of principle for someone you know doesn't have a snowball's chance of winning? Oh, OK. Then they're all embarrassing.
Favorite president: Andrew Jackson, because he's what a lap dance costs (and because, ironically, he opposed having a National Bank).
Cavanaugh is reason's Web editor.
2004 vote: Michael Badnarik, because he's Not Bush either.
2000 vote: Ralph Nader.
Most embarrassing vote: Dukakis in 1988. I thought he looked cool in that tank!
Favorite president: If we can't count John Hanson, then Warren G. Harding; would that they could all achieve so little.
Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.
2004 vote: I haven't decided between John Kerry and Michael Badnarik. I have only the dimmest hopes for a Kerry presidency, but I think Bush has to be held accountable for Iraq, the worst foreign policy blunder since Vietnam, and the accelerated growth of the federal government.
2000 vote: Harry Browne, in keeping with my usual (though not automatic) practice of voting for the Libertarian presidential nominee.
Most embarrassing vote: Richard Nixon, in my first election, 1972, an experience that helped estrange me permanently from the Republican Party.
Favorite president: Thomas Jefferson, who took great and justified pride that as president, he eliminated internal taxes and avoided war, and who peacefully doubled the size of the young nation.
Senior Editor Doherty is author of This Is Burning Man (Little, Brown).
2004 vote: I am a principled nonvoter. If I were forced to vote at gunpoint, I'd pick the Libertarian Party's Michael Badnarik, whose views on the proper role of government most closely resemble mine.
2000 vote: I did not vote. Those who vote have no right to complain.
Most embarrassing vote: I've been saved the embarrassment of ever having to feel any sense of responsibility, of even the smallest size, for the actions of any politician.
Favorite president: In their roles as president, I can't be an enthusiastic fan of any of them, but for his role in crafting the Constitution, a document that held some (unrealized) promise to limit government powers, James Madison.
Epstein is a professor of law at the University of Chicago and Author, most recently, of Skepticism and Freedom: A Modern Case for Classical Liberalism (University of Chicago).
2004 vote: I don't know who the Libertarian candidate is this time, but you can put me down as voting for him; anyone but the Big Two. As far as I can tell, the debate thus far has borne no relation to the important issues facing the nation ... except Vietnam. It's just two members of the same statist party fighting over whose friends will get favors.
2000 vote: I can't remember.
Most embarrassing vote: Since I don't remember who I vote for from one election to the next, it's hard to say. I sup pose Richard Nixon in '72, though that doesn't mean I'd want to have voted for George McGovern either.
Favorite president: I'm certainly a Calvin Coolidge fan; he made some mistakes, but he was a small-government guy.
CHARLES PAUL FREUND
Freund is a senior editor at reason.
2004 vote: I'm still thinking about it.
2000 vote: Harry Browne.
Most embarrassing vote: Andre Marrou.
Favorite president: I have no favorite president.
Contributing Editor Garvin, author of Everybody Had His Own Gringo: The CIA and the...