As Campaign 2008 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 are voting this fall, for whom they pulled the lever the last two times around, what they'll miss most about the Bush administration, and which president they'd most like to have waterboarded. Their answers, as of late October, follow.


Peter Bagge

1. Who are you voting for in November? If the polls in my home state are close: Obama (McCain is simply too incompetent these days to be president). If not, I'll make a protest vote for Barr.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? In 2004: John Kerry (I wanted to fire Bush). In 2000: Harry Browne.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? It’s not, since the ideological and policy differences between Reagan and Carter (for one example) were much bigger than between the two current candidates.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? Nothing. Worst president ever. The damage his administration has done to this country is mind-boggling.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded and why? If there was another president who also openly and enthusiastically advocated cruel and unusual punishment for mere suspects then I'd choose him, only I don't know if any other unabashed sadists have ever occupied the White House.

Peter Bagge, a reason contributing editor, is a cartoonist whose most recent collection was Apocalypse Nerd.

Ronald Bailey

1. Who are you voting for in November? Obama. The Republicans must be punished and punished hard.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? George W. Bush and George W. Bush. I am disheartened and ashamed.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? I don't know. Perhaps 1980 counts because we needed to recover from the economic disarray of the 1970s and confront the Soviet Empire.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? The bumper sticker: Somewhere in Texas a village is missing its idiot.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Without question: Richard Nixon. Wage and price controls, FBI domestic spying, the secret plan to end the war, the EPA, the Endangered Species Act, abandoned the gold standard, and, oh yes, Watergate.

Ronald Bailey is reason's science correspondent and the author of Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution.


Radley Balko

1. Who are you voting for in November? Bob Barr. He's the first serious candidate the LP has run since I've been eligible to vote.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? Kerry in 2004. Bush in 2000.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? No. There's too little difference between the major party candidates for there to be much riding on this election. It's really only a matter of if you want a huge federal government undertaking grand leftist programs, or if you want a huge federal government undertaking grand rightist programs.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? As a libertarian journalist, they've given me plenty to write about.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Woodrow Wilson. Jailed political dissenters, created the Federal Trade Commission, got us into World War I. He also enacted the first federal income tax, the first modern military draft, and the first federal drug prohibition. Wilson also re-segregated the federal government. When blacks protested, he told them to consider segregation a "benefit," not a debasement. An all-around loathesome human being.

(Correction:  Woodrow Wilson signed the first federal income tax law after the passage of the 16th Amendment, but he did not enact the first federal income tax.  There were two federal income taxes before that; one during the Civil War, which was later dropped, and one signed by Grover Cleveland in 1894, which was later struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.)

Radley Balko is a senior editor of reason.


Bruce Bartlett

1. Who are you voting for in November? I plan to vote for Obama mainly because he is not a Republican and not John McCain, who is temperamentally unfit to be president.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? I voted for Bush, but I regret it. I voted for him because I couldn't vote for Kerry, but would not vote at all if I had it to do over.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? I think the election of 1980 was the most important of my lifetime. The importance of this election can only be determined in retrospect.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Woodrow Wilson was our worst president mainly because we had no business getting involved in WWI and therefore every American who died in that war died for nothing. American intervention also upset the balance of power in Europe, which led to the rise of both Communism and Nazism. Wilson was a rabid racist and did terrible things domestically as well as internationally.

Bruce Bartlett is the author of Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.

*Note: Due to an editing error, this entry was omitted from the original version


Gregory Benford

1. Who are you voting for in November? Bob Barr

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? Libertarians, both times.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? No. 1968 and 1980 were more important, and we got 1980 right. If this time we get a liberal avalanche, it could be very important.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? Laura Bush.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Nixon, for betraying the country.

Contributing Editor Gregory Benford is a professor of physics at the University of California, Irvine. His most recent nonfiction book is Deep Time.


James Bovard

1. Who are you voting for in November? Bob Barr. He is the most pro-freedom candidate.  He has long done great work against the Surveillance State, in favor of the Second Amendment, and on other issues.  (Disclosure: I have done some work for the Barr campaign).

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? I voted for Badnarik in 2004, and didn't vote in 2000.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? It is the most important election since 2006, and maybe even 2004. Elections are vastly overrated as a means for restraining government abuses. The more people who believe that the 2008 election will end the abuses of the Bush era, the easier it will be for the next president to perpetuate Bush's noxious principles and precedents.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? If Obama wins, a torrent of Washington conservatives will suddenly proclaim that the federal government poses a dire threat to our rights and liberties. I will miss the honest conservatism of the GWB era - when many conservatives stopped pretending to give a damn about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and denounced as traitors anyone who did not kowtow to the Commander-in-Chief.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? I would not want to see any of them waterboarded, but I would like to see all of them forced to disclose all of their presidential papers and compelled to sit under cross examination for as many weeks or months as it takes for Americans to learn the extent of their abuses in office. And they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for any crimes they committed.

James Bovard is the author of eight books, most recently Attention Deficit Democracy.


David Brin

1. Who are you voting for in November? For not a single "liberal" reason, I am voting not only for Obama, but for the GOP to be utterly spanked and sent into exile, where, perhaps, sincere men and women may remember Barry Goldwater and resurrect some kind of healthy, libertarian Conservatism.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? I could tell that the neocons were mad in 2000 and that their allies were fanatics or thieves. It was blatant in 2004. Those who act shocked (shocked!) and betrayed today were fools then and are likely fools now.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? Without any doubt. The most important issues at stake today have nothing to do with "left-vs-right" (and those who think so are reflex troglodytes.) No, the issue is light-vs-dark, in the sense that we have been subjected to a kleptocratic raid that depended upon one thing—quashing every possible system of accountability. Especially the U.S. Civil Service. If Obama does nothing else—passes no new laws or initiatives—he will save us simply by expelling those 10,000 enemies of accountability and promoting from within the Civil Service. Only then can we properly argue which civil servants are useful and which aren't

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? Their perfect purity of purpose. I have looked for a single example of their acting in the best interests of the American people, the republic, or even decent conservatism. There are no examples, whatsoever. Such perfection belies the "Standard Model" that they were merely venal morons. Such uniformity of accomplishment smacks of deliberate intelligence.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? I find this question offensive. I will swallow my anger when Bush pardons thousands...and then let Cheney pardon him. I am too busy for vengeance.

David Brin is a scientist and Hugo award-winning science fiction author whose novels include The Postman and Kiln People.


Drew Carey

1. Who are you voting for in November? Anybody but McCain/Palin. Seriously. I'm begging you.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? I voted for the Libertarian candidate both times just to be puckish.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? No. I believe the answers to all the problems we face as a society won't come from Washington, it will come from us. So the way we decide to live our lives and our decisions about what we buy or don't buy are much more important than who we vote for.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration?

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? None of them. The sooner we stop coming up with lists of people to waterboard, the better.

Drew Carey is the host of The Price Is Right and reason.tv, and a trustee of the Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website.


Tim Cavanaugh

1. Who are you voting for in November? Barack Obama. All my life I've been waiting for a black president; Obama's not monumentally unqualified, and his solid-if-boring book at least had some unkind words for teachers unions. Also my kids like him.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? Michael Badnarik in 2004. Ralph Nader (IIRC) in 2000. And that should be "whom."

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? The 2000 election was the most important election of my lifetime, but nobody knew it at the time. Since I don't know the future this year either, I can't answer the question.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? The way George W. Bush singlehandedly destroyed John McCain's career—first by denying him the nomination he should have had in 2000, and now by turning the Republican Party into a leper colony.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Lyndon Johnson. Because he was mean to dogs.

Tim Cavanaugh is a reason contributing editor.


Steve Chapman

1. Who are you voting for in November? Barack Obama, for two main reasons: The Republican Party, which has jettisoned its best inclinations and indulged its worst for the last eight years, richly deserves exile from the White House, and 2) because he shows an intelligence and temperament that suggest he will govern more pragmatically than ideologically—the best that can be hoped for from a Democratic president.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? In 2004: John Kerry. In 2000: Harry Browne.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? Ask me on my deathbed.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? Robert Gates, the only person ever to go from protesting the Vietnam War to running the Pentagon, and showing the world that the latter job can be done with humility, restraint, responsibility, and a respect for the rest of the world.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? None of them. I'm not immune to cruel impulses, but I try to resist them.

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.


Shikha Dalmia

1. Who are you voting for in November? None of the above. I am afraid of McCaesar's foreign policy agenda and Big Oracle's domestic policy agenda. As for Bob Barr, he is a duplicitous, double-talking SOB and I'd rather pluck out my right eye than vote for him. I will vote Republican for Congress, however, because I want divided government and I am positively petrified by the prospect of a Democratic super majority with Obama in White House. In general, however, I favor a Democrat permanently in the White House and Republicans permanently in Congress.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? Wasn't a citizen in 2000. Voted for Bush in 2004 because I HATED Kerry. Even given the total disaster that Bush has turned out to be, I could never have voted for Kerry.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? How can one know? That will depend entirely on what the next president decides to do. But, yes, it might potentially be the most important election given all the disastrous policies that are now back on the table after having been driven out of polite company, such as socialization of home mortgages—aiyee, aiyee, aiyee.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? Oh please! Actually, Laura Bush's eyes.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? JFK and Ronald Reagan the liberal and conservative icons, just because I am a contrarian.

Shikha Dalmia is a senior analyst at the Reason Foundation.


Brian Doherty

1. Who are you voting for in November? See answer below.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? I don't vote, and don't expect I ever shall. Being even one-scintillionth responsible for placing the unbelievable and unspeakable powers of the current U.S. government in the hands of any of the people seeking it strikes me as irresponsible in the extreme. Besides, as everyone knows, those who vote have no right to complain about the outcome.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? It could have been, if either of the electable candidates had recognized to the bone the manifest or clearly forthcoming failures of the megastate when it comes to overseas adventurism, monetary policy, and the entitlement state. Alas, a true opportunity for change in the next four years has been assiduously missed by both Obama and McCain.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? I enjoyed and somewhat miss my 30s, which largely corresponded with the Bush administration. I might miss not having W. to kick around anymore, but I expect I won't.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Woodrow Wilson, for presiding over the lock-in of the modern "cult of the presidency" in Gene Healy's apt term, and getting us involved in one of our most pointless and damaging wars that laid the groundwork for a century and more of foreign policy misadventures.

Brian Doherty is a senior editor of reason.


Nick Gillespie

1. Who are you voting for in November? I am not sure that I'll cast a ballot for president but if I do, I'll vote for Bob Barr. He's the closest to my beliefs and I think it's important to show that third parties have some support and influence in general elections.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? I didn't vote at all in 2004, not out of any sense of principle but a lack of enthusiasm. I don't fully remember if I voted for president in 2000. If I did, it would have been Harry Browne (who I think I voted for in 1996).

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? I'm not convinced that many elections in the United States are that important, but the tragicomedy of American life is that we have a generally representative government, which is a damning comment on us. Elections can be more or less interesting but this one, despite the trappings of generational and ideological shifts, is not.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? Nothing.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? I think Andrew Jackson's monstrousness on virtually every level of activity is generally (and woefully) under-remembered. He was a "great man" president, which unfortunately meant he could get things done and had no principles other than a "L'Etat, cest moi" mentality.

Nick Gillespie is editor in chief of reason online and reason.tv.


David Harsanyi

1. Who are you voting for in November? As an alleged journalist and editorial board member, I'd rather not answer. Neither candidate appeals to me. One is an ideologically confused populist and the other is a pure demagogue. And though Republicans might deserve another glorious thumping, I imagine, a divided and bitterly partisan Washington would be less capable of the massive spreading of wealth that a Washington of "Unity" and "Change"—two words that alarm me only a smidgen more than "Country" and "First"—would inflict on citizens.

Then again, Republicans have proven me wrong before.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? I voted for Harry Browne in 2000 and, reluctantly, for George Bush in 2004.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? Of course not.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? Dana Perino.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Tough guy Teddy Roosevelt.

David Harsanyi is a syndicated columnist and editorial board member at the Denver Post.


Penn Jillette

1. Who are you voting for in November? Bob Barr, he's the Libertarian, right? I like people to know there are some of us out there. 

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? Always Libertarian. 

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? Nope. Not even close. 

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? I can't think of anything, but I'm sure Obamacain will give me something.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? No one. I'm against torture, and even this gag makes me a little uncomfortable. 

Penn Jillette is the larger, talkative half of the comedy duo Penn & Teller

*Note: Due to an editing error, this entry was omitted from the original version


Rob Kampia

1. Who are you voting for in November? I'm voting for Bob Barr, who is unfortunately only a write-in candidate in the District of Columbia, because he's the only presidential candidate who is in favor of reducing the size of the federal government while also supporting civil liberties.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? Michael Badnarik in 2004, Harry Browne in 2000.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? This election probably is the most important. Obama appears to be against wars of aggression, while McCain is clearly a war-monger. More generally, Obama is clearly deliberative and thoughtful and—while he won't often reach the same conclusions as I or other libertarians would reach—he's preferable to McCain, who relies on "gut feelings" and is as intellectually non-curious as George W. Bush.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? Nothing. I've disagreed with every single policy position the Bush administration has staked out.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? I'd never advocate water-boarding or otherwise torturing anyone, and I think even to joke about it is to diminish the horror of torture. Torture is like rape—is it okay to joke about which woman you'd most like to rape?

Rob Kampia is co-founder and executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C.


Bill Kauffman

1. Who are you voting for in November and why? Ralph Nader, because I never got the chance to vote for Gene Debs or Norman Thomas.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? I voted for Nader in 2004 and Pat Buchanan in 2000—the peace candidates.

3. Is this in fact the most important election in your lifetime? Nah, it's Coke vs. Pepsi. Though I'd prefer not to have Pepsi's finger on the nuclear button.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration?
Dana Gioia, chairman of the NEA, the best poet in government service since President Tyler sent John Howard "Home Sweet Home" Payne to Tunis.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Oh, I'm anti-torture, but I'd piss on Woodrow Wilson's grave. Too bad the bastard's buried in the National Cathedral.

Bill Kauffman is an author whose most recent book is Ain't My America: The Long, Noble History of Anti-War Conservatism and Middle American Anti-Imperialism.


David Kopel

1. Who are you voting for in November and why?
Very torn right now between Barr and McCain/Palin. I agree much more with Barr than with McCain on almost everything except the war on Islamic terrorists, but that war is, in my view, a national survival issue. I also think that a President Obama plus an overwhelmingly Democrat Congress would be very destructive for civil and economic liberties—including the abolition of the secret ballot in union elections, and a broad effort (including reimposition of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," and a Federal Election Commission crackdown on Internet speech) to suppress First Amendment criticism of Obama. I like Palin a lot. She has excellent judgment, and has more respect for libertarian values than anyone who has been on a national major party ticket in the last two decades. After several months of experience as Vice-President, with study of national security briefings and the like, she would be very qualified to serve as President.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? Bush in 2004. Nader in 2000.

3. Is this in fact the most important election in your lifetime? Every election seems supremely important when you're in the middle of it. From a historical perspective, we can see that Reagan's 1980 defeat of Carter was much more important than any other election since my birth during the Eisenhower administration. If we knew that President Obama would be checked by a Republican Congress (as Clinton was), I would say that even 2004 was a more important election than the current one; a Kerry win in 2004 would have resulted in a catastrophic defeat in Iraq, plus a Supreme Court solidly in the hands of Left. Among other consequences, the Second Amendment would have been nullified in the Heller case. But given that a President Obama would enjoy a very large Democratic majority in Congress, it is possible that an Obama presidency could change America at least as much as the Reagan presidency did. American exceptionalism would be over, and we would have a country a lot more like France: under the thumb of interest groups hostile to economic dynamism, and with a national government much larger and more intrusive than the bloated one we already have.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? John Bolton. He was Horatio at the Bridge, saving the Second Amendment from a full-scale assault at the United Nations.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Richard Nixon. Terrible on civil liberties. Very destructive in both the short term (wage and price controls) and the long term (inflation and completing the transition to fiat currency) on economic policy. A true friend of dictators in foreign affairs. In the spirit of bipartisanship, I concede that Woodrow Wilson  deserves consideration too.

David Kopel is an author, attorney, analyst and the Cato Institute, and blogger at the Volokh Conspiracy.

Katherine Mangu-Ward

1. Who are you voting for in November? I never vote. Here's why.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? I was chivvied into voting at school in a state election in 1998, the first year I was eligible. I voted against my longtime Rep. James Moran (D-Va.). As far as I can recall, I haven't been inside a voting booth since.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? Maybe, but only insofar as all of the elections in my lifetime have been fairly unimportant. Cthulhu willing, that will continue to be so. In that context, I suppose this one could theoretically win by a hair when the great report card in the sky is finally completed.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? I've actually enjoyed the last few months of the Bush administration. Since virtually everyone agrees that he's awful, no one even bothers to get in the kind of dinner-party-ruining fights that used to plague my evenings. When we get a new guy to fight about, I'll miss the peaceful meals.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? James K. Polk. How dare he accept a compromise U.S. border at the 49th parallel?! 54º40' or fight!

Katherine Mangu-Ward is an associate editor of reason.


Michael McMenamin

1. Who are you voting for in November? As Jack Benny famously said when confronted by a gun-toting thief who demanded his money or his life: "I'm thinking; I'm thinking."

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? What part of the 5th Amendment don't you understand?

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? No, unless the new President (whoever he is) and a Democratic Congress with a filibuster-proof Senate manage to turn a normal recession into a re-run of the 1930s' depression, something they are all too capable of doing. Then, in hindsight, it will have been the most important election in my lifetime.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, always the smartest person in the press room and way hotter than Sarah Palin. Faint praise on both counts but still true.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? So many choices, so little time. While LBJ is a tempting choice because he was trying to have me drafted and killed, it has to be Woodrow Wilson, the most racist President of the 20th Century, whose ill-fated decision to seek a declaration of war against Germany in 1917 directly led to the rise of Hitler and World War II.

Reason Contributing Editor Michael McMenamin's latest book is Becoming Winston Churchill: The Untold Story of Young Winston and His American Mentor.


Michael C. Moynihan

1. Who are you voting for in November? Besides being both exhausted by and disinterested in this election, I am once again feeling it unnecessary to vote. Contra Leonardo DiCaprio, who promises that if I fail to cast a ballot the country will be overrun by right-wing death squads, my vote truly doesn’t matter. I live in the District of Columbia, where the most current polling data puts Obama at 83 percent and McCain at 13 percent.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? In 2000, I reluctantly picked the tongue-tied, America-should-mind-its-own-business Republican. In 2004, while living in Europe, I abstained from voting.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? No, I don’t see this election as any more important than 2004—the one I boycotted. Way back then, Iraq was to soon reach its boiling point and the bruising fights over civil liberties and the War on Terror were just around the corner. Those who say that America is more divided than in it was in 2004 are delusional.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? I’ll miss the Bush administration’s ability to drive some of my commie friends into fits of apoplexy. And I’ll probably miss all those warnings of the impending fascist takeover.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? So many wonderful choices, but I’ll avoid the obvious (Jackson, Wilson, Nixon, Carter, etc.) and mix it up a bit: Give me a bucket, a slab of wood, and Gerald Ford. If pardoning Nixon isn’t enough to merit a vigorous waterboarding, Ford’s 1976 debate comment that “There is no Soviet domination of eastern Europe” surely is.

Michael C. Moynihan is an associate editor of reason.


Craig Newmark

1. Who are you voting for in November? Barack Obama, since he's a genuine leader, with a good program for cleaning up Washington, and will be very good for business.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? In 2004: Kerry. In 2000: The Libertarian candidate.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? Yes, I've been saying that "2008 is the new 1776," where networked, grassroots democracy begins seriously to replace big money politics.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? It's very good for comedy.

Craig Newmark is the founder of craigslist.org.


Grover Norquist

1. Who are you voting for in November? John McCain. Obama and a Democrat congress will change labor law and tort law to damage the forces of freedom in America for years to come.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? I campaigned for Bush both times.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? Reagan in 1980 was the most consequential.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? Some parts of it were less annoying than others.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Dick Cheney....poetic justice. Teddy Roosevelt for advancing statism.

Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform and author of Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives.


Charles Oliver

1. Who are you voting for in November? I won't be voting for president. If I did, it would be for Bob Barr because, as imperfect as his candidacy is, he's the only one who is at least talking about a noninterventionist foreign policy, rethinking the war on drugs, and shrinking the size of the federal government.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? To the best of my memory, the last presidential candidate I voted for was Ron Paul in 1988. I'd like to say I have some grand philosophical reason for not voting, but the reality is that no candidate since then has excited me enough to get out and vote.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? No, because, while John McCain and Barack Obama may differ on some particulars, they share the same fundamental view of government. Whichever one wins, there will be an expansion in the size and scope of the federal government, especially if, as is likely, the Democrats increase their majorities in Congress.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? I'll miss most all of those posts on National Review's The Corner that gushed over Bush (and Dick Cheney) like the diary entries of a school girl confessing her love for the Jonas Brothers.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? I guess I'd waterboard Woodrow Wilson because, among many other reasons, he led the United States into World War I and presided over the creation of the Federal Reserve. I'd say the world has been suffering from those decisions almost a century now.

Charles Oliver is a reason contributing editor.


Steven Pinker

1. Who are you voting for in November? Barack Obama, because he most exemplifies Reason and Free Minds (sorry, the country is in no mood for Freer Markets). The contrast between his discernment and eclecticism and the Republican ticket’s impulsiveness and idiot populism is vastly more important than any differences in their adherence to libertarian first principles.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? Gore and Kerry.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? It may be. From Reagan to Quayle to W to Palin, American politics has been in a tailspin of know-nothingism. The world is too dangerous to entrust its most powerful nation to a lying ignoramus and the irresponsible man who picked her.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? Nothing.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? I'm opposed to waterboarding, but I'd give a few lashes with a wet noodle to Jimmy Carter for offering a moralistic polemic on the Middle East rather than clever diplomacy, and to George H.W. Bush for inaugurating the modern era of mendacious campaigning.

Steven Pinker is Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and the author of The Blank Slate and The Stuff of Thought.


Bob Poole

1. Who are you voting for in November? John McCain, as the less-bad option. I base this on his positions on free trade, taxation and spending, unions, and Supreme Court nominations, as well as the merits of divided government (given the near-certainty of strong Democratic majorities in both houses).

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? Bush, both times.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? I hope not. I think Goldwater vs. Johnson had a huge impact, laying the basis for a conservative/libertarian movement that produced Ronald Reagan's presidency.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? DOT Secretary Mary Peters, the best and most free-market-oriented Cabinet member in my lifetime.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Richard M. Nixon, massive expander of big government, even to the point of wage and price controls.

Robert Poole is director of transportation studies at Reason Foundation, a free market think tank he founded. Poole, an MIT-trained engineer, has advised the last four presidential administrations on transportation and policy issues.


Damon W. Root

1. Who are you voting for in November? I'm wavering between Bob Barr and None of the Above, though I'm leaning strongly towards the latter. I really just want the Republicans to lose.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? In 2004 I cast one of New York City's 1,276 votes for Libertarian Michael Badnarik. Speaking proportionally, my vote actually made a difference that time. In 2000: Nobody.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? It's nice to think that one election could undo the damage from the Iraq debacle, or scale back Bush's radical expansion of executive power. But it won't.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration?
I'll miss the extremely slender possibility that Bush might have nominated Judge Janice Rogers Brown to the Supreme Court.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded and why? It's a toss-up between Andrew Jackson and Teddy Roosevelt. Old Hickory deserves it for his central role in the Trail of Tears, though TR, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, did more than just about anyone to get America involved in a bloody imperialist war in the Philippines.

Damon W. Root is an associate editor of reason.


Ryan Sager

1. Who are you voting for in November? I am voting for Barack Obama, because I believe in hope and change and unicorns. Also, John McCain is dangerously mentally unfit to be president and has decided, with his choice of Sarah Palin, to complete the transformation of the GOP into a southern-centered party based on social division and cultural resentment.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000?
I voted for George W. Bush in 2004, based on the theory that America needed to send a message of resolve in the War on Terror and the fact that John Kerry was an irredeemable douche. In 2000, I didn't vote, but would have voted for Bush (and, as a result, feel hypothetical guilt over my non-choice).

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? We all thought that 2000 was the least important election of our lifetimes. That turned out to be incorrect.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? The Daily Show. Will there be anything funny about an Obama administration? Guilty white people say: no.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded and why? John Adams, John McCain's spiritual predecessor in speech-suppression. Good riddance to both of them. Hopefully.

Ryan Sager is author of The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians, and the Battle to Control the Republican Party. He blogs at Miscellaneous Objections.


Julian Sanchez

1. Who are you voting for in November? Living in the District of Columbia, I see little reason to mar my as- yet unblemished record of nonvoting. But if I lived in Virigina or Florida, I'd be ticking the box for Obama—not because of any great affection for Hopey McChangeypants, but because I'm terrified of what happens to the Republican Party if eight years of military adventurism, unfettered executive power, and disregard for civil liberties aren't utterly repudiated at the polls.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? Had I voted, I probably would have voted for Kerry in '04, for largely the same reasons, albeit with significantly more revulsion. To my great chagrin now, I was pulling for Bush in 2000; absent 9/11, he might not have turned out quite so badly.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? In hindsight, I guess you could argue that the 2000 election gets that dubious honor, though nobody realized it at the time. But yeah, I think this is a potential realignment year, with the future shape of the conservative coalition as the stakes: The outcome will determine whether the Republican Party sees a need to fundamentally reconsider what they're about.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? So, so little. I will say, if you happen to write about surveillance and civil liberties abuses for a living, this crowd has been a steady source of work. And I suppose I'll be having a lot more arguments with my liberal friends under an Obama administration.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Would it be totally insufferable of me to suggest that the impulse to engage in torture fantasies about your political enemies is part of what's fucked about our current public discourse? Probably. Sorry.

Julian Sanchez is the Washington Editor of the online technology news magazine Ars Technica and a contributing editor for reason. He is based in Washington, D.C. and blogs sporadically at JulianSanchez.com.


John Scalzi

1. Who are you voting for in November? I'll be voting for Obama, because I think as a nation we're about to descend into a pile of hurt, and I want someone who is smart, pragmatic, and not prone to temper tantrums working to get us out of it as quickly as possible. Also, the possibility of a President Palin makes me want to prepare a bolthole in New Zealand, and as a patriotic American, I should never have to feel that way. Finally, I think the GOP need a moment or two in the Time Out corner, don't you?

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? Gore in 2000; Kerry in 2004. In 2000 I suspected Bush might have the intellectual depth of a custard; in 2004, sadly, I knew it all too well.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? Don't know, don't care, and couldn't accurately tell you even if I felt it was. At the moment the 2000 election has ended up being the most important election of my lifetime, because of what it wrought for the following eight years, but at the time it didn't seem all that significant. You can't tell about these things when you're in the middle of them.

Anyway, the implication that an election has to achieve a certain level of drama and historical significance to engage the voter is kind of a bullshit sentiment. Every presidential election is important because of the scope of power the office holds, and this election is important right NOW, which is sufficient. I'll leave it to history to determine whether it's the most important of the last however many years.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? Not a goddamned thing.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Dude, waterboarding is so 2006.

John Scalzi is a science fiction author whose most recent novel, Zoe’s Tale, was published in August.


Jack Shafer

1. Who are you voting for in November? Bob Barr.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? Remind me who the libertarian candidates were.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? I don't know how long I'm going to live, so I'll give that one a bye.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? It's failure to pass the "Yes Child Left Behind" act.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? That's a pretty silly question.

Jack Shafer is editor at large of Slate.


Michael Shermer

1. Who are you voting for in November? I’m voting Democrat because I think lawyers should run the country, because the last two years under their control has gone so well, because the government has done such a great job with FEMA that they should also be in charge of our school choices, health care choices, and retirement choices, because they protect me from crime so well that I don’t need a gun, because I want to pay more taxes (especially Capital Gains), because unions need to be stronger against evil corporations, because trade with foreign corporations is anti-American and we need to protect American jobs, and mostly because I’m tired of having so many choices and want someone else to make them for me.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? Republican, Libertarian.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? Ever since I came of voting age people have said that the next election is the most important election of our lifetime, so the answer is either “yes,” because they are all important, or “no,” because president’s cannot do what they promise and this is all hyperbole. I’ll opt for the latter.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? All the jokes from Leno, Letterman, Maher, Conan, Ferguson, et al.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Teddy Roosevelt, because of his trust-busting inanities and the fact that he could probably hold his breath longer than any other President and I’d want him to be able to think about all his anti-capitalistic interventions during the waterboarding session.

Michael Shermer is the publisher of Skeptic magazine, an adjunct professor in the School of Politics and Economics at Claremont Graduate University, and the author of The Mind of the Market.


RU Sirius

1. Who are you voting for in November? Barack Obama. I could give 100 reasons, but I'll just say civil liberties. He's not perfect, and yes, he sold out on warrantless wiretapping, but on the whole, he's been better in this area than any presidential candidate in my voting lifetime.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? John Kerry in 2004. Ralph Nader in 2000.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? Maybe, because of the obvious crises and the extreme abuse of power by the previous administration, which might hopefully get dialed back. But it may also be the least important election, since the two men may just be running to see who gets to be captain of The Titanic.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? The unintentional hilarity. Although if we get Palin, it's only going to get better.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Richard Nixon, who continued and escalated in Vietnam because it was politically expedient. But really, I only support waterboarding between consenting adults.

RU Sirius is Editor of h+ (www.hplusmagazine.com), the new Transhumanist magazine, and an occasional contributor to 10 Zen Monkeys. His most recent book is True Mutations: Conversations on the Edge of Science, Technology and Consciousness.


Tim Slagle

1. Who are you voting for in November? I'm voting for Palin. Maybe it's just the tendency of a guy with a big crush to project his ideology on that crush, but she just smells like a Libertarian to me. I'm probably wrong, but the alternative really frightens me. The darkest moments in world history have occurred during the confluence of a bad economy and a charismatic leader. Those videos of children singing and marching for Obama are really disconcerting. I don't care for McCain, but with Palin behind him, his age is an asset.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? In 2004 I voted for Michael Badnarik. There was too much that happened in the first four years of the Bush administration that I really didn't care for, so it was a way to lodge a protest. I voted for George Bush in 2000, and I'm still not ashamed of that. It helped keep Al Gore out of the White House. Subsequently, America never signed on to Kyoto, or joined the International Criminal Court. If Gore had won, right now we'd be in front of the ICC, defending ourselves, for causing the cyclone in Burma.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? Perhaps I'm just paranoid, but I think we are at a very critical juncture. With the Federal Government holding so many banks and a lot of the mortgages right now, I think it's important to vote for somebody who at least has the intention of giving everything back to the private sector. I see no inclination for Obama to do that. In fact it would not surprise me, to see him calling for more nationalization in his first term.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? I will miss hearing his opponents grate their teeth together, every time he says Nukular.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Franklin Roosevelt. You wouldn't even have to board him, just tilt his chair back into one of the reflecting pools he built. And keep repeating it, until he ADMITS he was a Communist.

Tim Slagle is a stand-up comedian whose most recent album was Europa.


Doug Stanhope

1. Who are you voting for in November? The Libertarians were hijacked in some type of fishy Beer Hall Putsch by a neo-con with holes in his underpants, so I can't even vote with my heart this election. I will vote for Obama on behalf of everyone watching in the world, because he’s the coolest to watch on television.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? In 2004, I campaigned (by writing drunken endorsements on my website and sending in a couple bucks) for Badnarik but didn't end up voting because of a hand injury. In 2000, I actually did vote for the Libertarian but couldn't tell you his name to save my life. That's why bumper stickers from old elections can come in handy.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? On some levels, yes. I truly believe Obama has the potential to be another Kennedy—including the ugliest consequences to his own person. And I'd rather pay more taxes than give a step up to the religious armies, war-mongers, and anti-drug demons affiliated with the right.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? Nothing. The jokes got old five years ago. This administration even made war boring—something unprecedented in American history. Even the Spanish-American War had more people clamoring for details. The History Channel would go bust if it had to replace the WWII shows with Iraq coverage. The only thing I'll miss is the Schadenfruede of seeing him fail.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? I've never looked at any President with any reverence. I never saw any cause and effect between my daily life and a decision of the federal government. I did, however, hear the Nixon tapes and there is absolutely no reason that he shouldn't have been killed as quickly as Saddam based on that—the petty Watergate issues aside.

Doug Stanhope, a stand-up comedian, was, briefly, a candidate for the 2008 Libertarian Party presidential nomination.


Bill Steigerwald

1. Who are you voting for in November? No one.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? No one.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? No. Bipartisan business-as-usual will prevail—growth of government size, scope and nebbiness will continue.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? In addition to the neocons going back to their caves? The pathetic attempts by Republicans and alleged conservatives to defend his record of growing government, his insane blunder in Iraq and his betrayal of what little was left of conservatism's pretense of favoring freedom, limited government, fiscal prudence, and a non-interventionist foreign policy.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Woodrow Wilson—an arrogant egghead crusader at home and abroad armed with stupid progressive ideals (and just two years of government experience before he became president); second choice: Teddy Roosevelt.

Bill Steigerwald is the associate editor of and columnist for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

 
Roger Stone

1. Who are you voting for in November? McCain-Palin. Thought about doing the Black President thing gradually by voting for Bob Barr.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? Voted for Bush—so I am responsible for the war in Iraq.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime?
YES, Obama is a socialist and, no matter what he says today, pro-Palestinian. There is no turning back.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? Tax policy—little else.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded and why? Bill Clinton—embarassing low-class hillbilly.

Roger Stone is a well-known political operative whose writings can be found at Stonezone.com.

 


Jacob Sullum

1. Who are you voting for in November? Bob Barr. I admired Barr as one of the most libertarian members of Congress even when he was a Republican and a gung-ho drug warrior. I respect him more for having the courage to publicly change his mind about drug policy and, more broadly, about the wisdom and propriety of using the federal government to impose a socially conservative agenda on the country.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? 2004: Michael Badnarik. 2000: Harry Browne. I confess I had to look up the names.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? I think Reagan vs. Carter in 1980 was more consequential than this election will prove to be.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? The idea that $438 billion is a big budget deficit.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Bruce Greenwood, until he reveals the location of the Book of Secrets.

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at reason and a nationally syndicated columnist.


Jesse Walker

1. Who are you voting for in November? Bob Barr, despite my dismay at the campaign he's run.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? 2004: Michael Badnarik, despite my dismay at the campaign he ran. 2000: Harry Browne, despite my dismay at the campaign he ran.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? It's way too early to tell, and anyone who says otherwise needs a Valium. Ask me again in 2020.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? Remember back in April 2001, when the neocons and other hotheads were ready to go to war with China over a downed American spy plane? Remember how Bush handled the incident diplomatically instead? I'll miss that. Hell, I've been missing it for years already.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Woodrow Wilson, for about a thousand reasons, but above all for the police state he installed during World War I.

Jesse Walker is managing editor of reason.


David Weigel

1. Who are you voting for in November? I’ve got the luxury of a guilt-free, zero-impact vote in the District of Columbia, which I would cast for Bob Barr if he was on the ballot. Since he’s not, I’m voting for Barack Obama, the only remaining candidate whom I trust not to run the country (further) into the ground with stupid and erratic decisions, and who (miraculously for a Democrat) has run a less brain-dead, faux-populist campaign than the Republican.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? Last time, it was that guy from Massachusetts who hated the troops and lied about his Vietnam service in a French accent. In 2000 I not only voted for Ralph Nader but served as an electoral college elector for him in the state of Delaware. I regret the Nader vote, but not the Kerry vote, as a weak Democratic president with a conservative congress would have been pretty tolerable in retrospect.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? Clearly the most important was 1988, when Americans rejected Mike Dukakis and spared themselves from a tax hike, a liberal Supreme Court justice, a pointless intervention in Central America, and a bungled handling of Soviet dissolution. But this is a close second, because I really don’t think McCain has the temperment to be president or the interest in standing up to a Democratic Congress, his only theoretical advantage over Obama.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? The withering of the Cult of the Presidency. It’s going to come back in force under President Obama, as I’m reminded whenever I walk down my street and see T-shirts with Our Leader’s gorgeous face on them.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Lyndon Baines Johnson. While his children watch.

David Weigel is an associate editor of reason.


Matt Welch

1. Who are you voting for in November? I live in the District of Columbia, which will probably go 90 percent to Barack Obama, so I will probably throw a bone to the third-party candidate whose program most resembles my own: Bob Barr.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? John Kerry and Ralph Nader! I've had a bad decade....

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? I think the most important U.S. election of my lifetime was in 1972, when Americans picked the wrong guy (not that there was a right one, mind you).

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? He sent me a $600 check like in 2002, back when I was living below the poverty line, and we used it to buy a terrific, much-needed bed.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Not necessarily waterboarded, but forced to listen to this song for 192 consecutive hours, or insanity, whichever comes first. Richard Nixon.

Matt Welch is reason's editor in chief and the author of McCain: The Myth of a Maverick.


Cathy Young

1. Who are you voting for in November? I can't in good conscience give my sanction to either of the two major-party candidates: McCain/Palin represent a GOP in thrall to troglodytes, while Obama will likely preside over an even bigger expansion of government than McCain would have. I think an Obama victory would be the lesser of two evils overall, but I will probably vote for Bob Barr.

2. Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? In 2004: Michael Badnarik. In 2000: Bush.

3. Is this the most important election in your lifetime? Not sure; hopefully, my lifetime isn't over any time soon, so who knows what future elections might bring! I'm not sure the election of 2004 was of any less consquence—though Obama is much more of an unknown quantity than Kerry was, and his election will have far greater symbolic meaning.

4. What will you miss about the Bush administration? The Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS). It was often fun to watch, though ODS promises to be just as good.

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded and why? For some reason, this question made me think of an alternate-history short story by the brilliant Russian satirist Dmitry Bykov in which the 2000 Bush/Gore election dispute turns into a prolonged stalemate finally resolved by asking Vladimir Putin to be president of the United States...

Cathy Young is a reason contributing editor.