Before the presidential elections in 2004 and 2008, Reason.com asked its staff, regular contributors, and other people important to the libertarian universe of ideas, to say for whom they're voting and to answer a few questions related to November's big contests.

With the 2012 contest now just a couple of weeks away, we're happy to publish our third "Who's Getting Your Vote?" survey, along with some questions about other important races around the country and whether the United States is becoming more or less free. Nobody's required to participate, but we do this exercise in a spirit of transparency and openness that generally goes missing at other media organizations around election time. Journalists claim all sorts of moral and legal privileges for themselves (typically as a corrective to the supposedly rotten wages the profession offers), but the idea that readers shouldn't know for whom political commentators pull the lever is self-evidently ridiculous.

The previous installments expressed a lot of discontent with major-party candidates and a willingness on the part of some participants to "punish" the Republican Party by voting for the Democrats John Kerry and Barack Obama. I understood the sentiment but couldn't endorse it. After all, those of us who weren't Republicans would also be punished by Democratic victories. Where's the justice in that?

As Matt Welch and I note in The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America, the broadly defined libertarian vote (folks interested in reducing the size, spending, and scope of government) has tended to vote for Republican candidates, ostensibly because of the GOP's limited-government rhetoric. Depending on the definition, the libertarian vote comprises 10 percent to 20 percent of the overall electorate, far more than enough to determine any national election. According to analyses by David Boaz (who participates below), FreedomWorks' David Kirby, and Reason's polling director Emily Ekins, upwards of seven out of 10 libertarian-leaning voters go Republican in presidential races. Major exceptions came in 2004 and 2008, when higher-than-average numbers of libertarians were willing to throw in with John Kerry and Barack Obama (many participants in our 2008 presidential survey said they were voting for Obama). By the 2010 midterm elections, that flirtation with Dems seemed to be over and the Reason-Rupe Poll released this September found that 70 percent of libertarian-minded voters said they plan to vote for Romney. The same poll found that the Libertarian Party candidate, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, could pull as much as 6 percent of the final vote.

Johnson is certainly the clear favorite in our 2012 "Who's Getting Your Vote" survey. Few of the contributors below have kind words for either President Obama or Gov. Romney, but many are stoked by state-level intiatives seeking to legalize the production, sale, and use of marijuana; to recognize gay marriage; and to otherwise limit the power of the state. Contributors were also generally optimistic that Reason's vision of "Free Minds and Free Markets" was either still gaining ground or at least holding its own against constant attempts to limit both. 

Nothing in what follows should be construed as an official endorsement for any candidate or cause. Reason.com is published by a 501(c)3 nonprofit and doesn't endorse particular candidates or specific pieces of legislation. We do hope that you'll find what follows provocative and informative.

To view this article as a single page, go here.

For the 2004 version, go here. And for for 2008, go here. - Nick Gillespie

Peter Bagge

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? Gary Johnson, because I agree with him more than any other past or present presidential candidate I can think of. 

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? Obama would be worse, though I think Romney would also be terrible.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Mitt, though Barack is no friend to freedom of any kind.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? They'd both be equally disastrous.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? Harry Browne, John Kerry (whom I despised, but I really wanted to see Bush get fired), and Bob Barr (the worst Lib candidate ever, but still much preferable to McCain or Obama).

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? It looks like my home state of Washington may legalize marijuana.  It'll be both fantastic and very interesting to see what happens if that does indeed happen.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? It's a real possibility but an endless struggle.  Most people fear liberty and freedom far more than they're willing to admit.

Peter Bagge is a cartoonist and author of many graphic novels and comic collections, including his compilation of work for Reason magazine, Everybody is stupid except for me (revised edition due out in 2013).

Ronald Bailey

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? Gary Johnson. This dispiriting and especially mendacious presidential race has sorely tempted me to take [my colleague's] Katherine Mangu-Ward’s advice and not bother voting at all. However, as I explained in 2008, I voted for Obama to punish the Republicans. I expected Obama to be a disappointment, but not THIS big a disappointment. The GOP has clearly not yet learned to value both economic and social liberty, so Romney and Ryan won’t get my vote.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? Obama, period.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Obama is better on gay marriage and reproductive rights. Romney is better on free speech and school choice.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be all that much difference between the two on this set of issues. Perhaps Obama seems a little less interested in war with Iran and he does want to cut the Defense budget. Both evidently are enthusiastic supporters of domestic spying.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? Bush, Bush, Obama.

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? The Massachusetts Senate race between Scott Brown (R) and Elizabeth Warren (D). Also Proposition 37 in California, which would unscientifically and expensively require labeling of perfectly safe foods containing ingredients from crops improved using modern biotechnology. 

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? The increasing disillusionment with crony capitalism and intrusive government is a hopeful sign that it’s a real possibility.

Ronald Bailey is the science correspondent at Reason, and author of Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution.

David Boaz

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? I tend to think that think-tank officers should keep their ballots secret. But I am generally guided by the fact that in 40 years of voting I've never encountered an election in which my vote would have made the difference, and by the principle that it's better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? As bad as the Bush administration was, and as bad as Romney's Massachusetts administration was, and as bad as Romney's campaign promises are, I still have to believe that Obama is and would be worse on these economic issues. Though I do notice a certain Randian tone to Romney's promises: When he promises to "get tough on China," I fear that he really might stop the motor of the world economy.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Even here, we see the unfortunate confusion among "liberals" and conservatives on freedom issues. Obama is clearly better on gay marriage. But he's an opponent of free political speech and school choice. And he's surprisingly bad on drug laws.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? In 2008 we clearly thought Obama would be better on military intervention and civil liberties. So much for predictions. The welfare-warfare state gets its clutches into everybody. All we can say is, Obama has been bad, and Romney criticizes him for not being interventionist and threatening enough.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? See (1).

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? I would very much like to see some victories for marijuana freedom and equal marriage rights in the various initiatives around the country. Both issues seem to be at a tipping point, and a couple of electoral wins would really help to accelerate the process.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? In the history of the world, we have experienced few periods that saw freer minds and freer markets than we enjoy today. I believe that an ever larger part of the world will continue to move fitfully and haltingly toward greater respect for individualism, markets, toleration, and personal autonomy, if we can avoid wars and fiscal disaster. But this requires that in the United States and elsewhere, citizens make the case for freedom and free markets, and resist intrusions into economic and civil liberties. The state and its beneficiaries are always pushing, always alert to opportunities for expansion. The challenge is for citizens, who have lives and families and jobs, to push back.

David Boaz is executive vice president of the Cato Institute and author of Libertarianism: A Primer and The Politics of Freedom.

Shikha Dalmia

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? Gary Johnson. He is a pragmatic libertarian who offers a principled alternative to the statism of the right (that would outlaw same-sex marriage and abortion; criminalize drugs; erect barriers to keep willing foreign workers away from willing Americans, etc.) and the statism of the left (that would enact crade-to-grave entitlements; confiscate wealth rather than curb spending to avoid going off the fiscal cliff etc.). Johnson is one of those rare libertarians who could operationalize his ideological vision into something resembling a governing philosophy. He cut spending in New Mexico, no small feat in a predominantly Democratic state. He won’t engage in politically futile fights on idiosyncratic libertarian causes such as moving to a gold standard or abolishing the fed (laudable though those goals might be). He seems to regard liberty not necessarily as a goal or a cause, but a tool to advance sound public policy whether it is to prevent overseas entanglements or economy-busting regulations at home.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? Obama would be slightly worse. Romney is perhaps the most rabidly protectionist candidate to run in living memory – with the possible exception of Ross Perot. His saber-rattling against Chinese “cheating” might have been par for the course if it were not accompanied by his very specific pledge that he would declare China a currency manipulator on the day he assumed office. That said, Obama is a creature of government who seems to have no understanding of how crippling Obamacare, Dodd-Frank and EPA regulations are for private industry. He genuinely does not seem to understand that such initiatives – along with mounting debt and deficit -- might have something to do with the lackluster economic recovery.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? I would say “by far Romney” if I were judging solely by his statements during the presidential campaign. But given his record of flip-floppery on many of these issues, it is hard to say which way he’ll blow once he assumes office. He could turn out to be really bad or not-so-bad but I think he’ll be worse than Obama under any circumstances. And that’s not necessarily because Obama is any less prone to flip-floppery (witness his handling of the gay-marriage issue), but because his progressive base is somewhat more freedom-oriented on these issues (with the exception of school choice) at the moment.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? The left is prone to humanitarian wars and the right to wars from (alleged) national interest. That said, I think Romney will be infinitely worse on this issue. He has remained alarmingly consistent in his calls to peg defense spending to 4 percent of GDP so that “no one would ever dare to mess with the America” or words to that effect. His constant sabre-rattling against Iran to distinguish himself from Obama and court the GOP’s hawkish faithful is truly alarming.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? I wasn’t a citizen in 2000. I voted for Bush against Kerry in 2004 and didn’t vote for either Obama or McCain (or the Libertarian Party nominee Bob Barr) in 2008.

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? The union-backed constitutional amendment in Michigan called Proposition 2 or the “Protect Our Jobs” ballot initiative. Not only will it turn public unions into something of a super-legislature when it comes to collective bargaining issues in Michigan, it will also permanently stop Michigan from becoming a right-to-work state. What’s more, if successful in Michigan, it could become labor’s blueprint to pre-emptively ban or scrap right-to-work laws in the 22 other states that allow legislative action through referendums and ballot initiatives.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? It is a question of moving incrementally toward a progressively freer society – not establishing some final utopia. I am not a Hegelian who believes that history will ever culminate in one rational moment; I am a Hayekian who believes history will move human societies toward greater freedom, prosperity and happiness as they discover existing injustices and irrationalities and correct them without ever reaching some final state of perfection. History is a discovery process no less than markets.

Shikha Dalmia is a senior analyst at Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes Reason.com.

Brian Doherty

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why (in 100 words or less)? I am a non-voter, as per my 2004 article "Not Voting and Proud." If you want to vote and ask my advice, I advise you to vote for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, as his policies if implemented come the closest to creating a just and sustainable federal government. 

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? I think Romney's rhetoric would be better in libertarian terms on those issues; I don't trust his ability to follow through, or to get Congress, the actual lawmaking body, to follow through. 

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? These issues fall on either side of the set of policy positions and/or groups to mollify our two major parties. Thus, it's likely to be a wash, with one better on some, the other better on others. Certainly no coherent set of beliefs in freedom motivate either of them.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? From their records, they both seem to feel free to start wars at will, and detain and murder citizens or noncitizens at will. 

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? I have never voted, and don't expect to. 

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? The set of marijuana legalization initiatives on the state level have the promise to break a log jam in one of our most foolish and wrong domestic policies, the drug war. However, if they have their way, both major party presidential candidates will do their best to make sure the will of the people is ignored if they legalize pot use in their states.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? It remains a real possibility, and in fact the only real possibility, to keep this nation going in the face of our looming debt and monetary crisis. Achieving it requires an ongoing project of education. 

Brian Doherty is a Reason senior editor and the author of Radicals for Capitalism and Ron Paul’s Revolution.

Matthew Feeney

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? I will not be voting on Election Day. Public choice economics aside, there are hardly any significant differences between the two main candidates. Whatever the outcome, there will still be a lot of work to be done advancing the radical notion that people should be left alone to pursue their own goals without coercing others. I am getting sick of people telling me that voting is a right I have to exercise. I have the right to bear arms, yet I don’t own a gun, and I have the right to petition the government, but I haven’t done so.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? On economic freedom, Obama and Romney are both disasters for different reasons. In his first term Obama has demonstrated his fondness for corporatism and government interference in the market. The president blames so-called “trickle down economics” for the mess he inherited, and believes that the government deciding who should sink and who should float is a good way to foster a healthy economy so long as the rich pay their “fair share.”

Romney talks like a capitalist but seems keen on a trade war with China and keeping our military spending at insane levels. His admission during the first presidential debate that on Social Security he and the President are almost in complete agreement says a lot about how serious Romney is about his faith in markets and limited government. Romney would be worse than Obama from a libertarian perspective because of the rhetoric he is using. Were Romney to move into the White House we would still be enjoying the same crony capitalism, but under the guise of free markets.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Regarding social freedom I think Romney is slightly worse, though not by much. Being a libertarian that found his way as a liberal that got convinced of the economics, I have always found social conservatism abhorrent. That said, Obama seems to have been changing his mind on issues such as gay marriage with disturbing ease. The war on drugs has been perhaps Obama’s greatest social policy failure, having overseen a massive increase in DEA raids on medical marijuana dispensaries. Obama may well have campaigned in 2008 on a platform of social tolerance, but his record on illegal immigrant deportations and his waging of the drug war that would put George W. Bush to shame means I cannot give him much credit for being ever so slightly more tolerant than Romney

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? Obama’s foreign policy is a George W. Bush 2.0 foreign policy. We are still engaged in unwinnable wars in countries we have not declared war on, and the drone strike program has been expanded. The Patriot Act remains thanks to Obama’s renewal, the assassination of American citizens without judicial review is accepted policy, drone warfare has expanded, and the sabre rattling with Iran continues. It is on foreign policy that the two candidates are perhaps the most similar. Whoever wins in November the legitimacy and effectiveness of interventionist warfare will remain the overriding assumption of America’s foreign policy.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? In November 2000 I was in the seventh grade and had only been living in New Jersey for three months. I had no idea who these Bush and Gore people were. In 2004 I was slightly more politically aware. Had I been of age and an American citizen I would have voted for John Kerry. In 2008 I would have voted for Obama, but I was not an American citizen so could not vote. I was a liberal in 2008 and I liked Barack Obama. An added incentive for my support for Obama was the Republican 2008 vice-presidential nominee.         

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? Colorado Marijuana Legalization Initiative, Amendment 64. The war on drugs is a national disgrace, and I look forward to a time when it is viewed the same way alcohol prohibition is viewed now. Having the good people of Colorado leading the way on this issue would be a very welcome development. Thankfully, recent polling shows the amendment enjoying majority support.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? Being a libertarian who works in media, it can become very easy to get disheartened. Four hours of every day I work on aggregating news, almost all of which involves someone being screwed or abused by governments or coercive agents and being on the receiving end of the stupidity of elected officials. That said, I am optimistic about the war of drugs being scaled back and our education system becoming increasingly open sourced and innovative. The world will never be as free as I want it to be, but I am looking forward to a few important victories ahead.

Matthew Feeney is an assistant editor at Reason 24/7.

Nick Gillespie

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? Gary Johnson. The two-term former governor of New Mexico is the first presidential candidate for whom I am totally comfortable voting. He won't win, but I hope he has a strong enough showing to make people want to learn more about limited government. 

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? Obama, but not by as much as most people might think.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Romney, though the president's ability to affect these issues much is relatively minor.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? A toss-up. Obama's foreign policy and disregard for constitutional limits on warmaking are genuinely appalling. Romney's lack of experience and rhetorical bellicosity, coupled with an advising team heavy on Bush adminstration retreads, is very worrisome.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? The Libertarian Party candidate in each, though often without much enthusiasm.

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? The pot legalization and gay marriage initiatives around the country, which demonstrate precisely the sort of single-issue, ad hoc coalitions that Matt Welch and I identified in The Declaration of Independents as a rising force in politics. These are attempts to route around a two-party duopoly that has stopped being responsive to citizens' desire for more choice and freedom. 

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? In many ways - and despite a rotten economy and a raft of new regulations and restrictions - we're freer than ever to live however we want to. Certainly, we're freer than ever to express ourselves. But such freedom can always be tamped down via awful policy, which never seems to go into recession. My sense is that we're still stutter-stepping forward toward more individual control over our lives.

Nick Gillespie is the editor in chief of Reason.com and the co-author with Matt Welch of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America.

Steven Greenhut

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? I’m actually not voting for anyone. I let my registration lapse. My former Orange County Register colleague, the late Alan Bock, argued that voting only encourages “them.” If I were voting, I would vote for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, who is the rare Libertarian candidate who actually held elected office (governor). His running mate, Judge Jim Gray, was a champion of freedom in the courts. On freedom issues, Democrats are incorrigible. Republicans pay lip service to the concept, but often aren't much better and sometimes are worse on war and civil-liberties issues. Perhaps an LP ticket can give the GOP enough of a scare as a spoiler that the party listens to libertarians. Obama will win California so why not try something a little different?

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? Obama will unquestionably be worse on those issues. He really does believe that the government has the solution to every problem. He is a nightmare on union issues. He recognizes no apparent limits to federal power and doesn’t grasp the wonder of free markets. Obama’s disastrous economic policies – and his unwillingness to alter course despite the consequences of them – are the best arguments for voting for the GOP ticket. But realistically a GOP win won't improve things much.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? It’s a mixed bag. I’d like to see the separation of marriage and state, but Romney and Obama want the state to be involved. I have low expectations for both of them on the speech issue. Obama is worse on school choice and is worse even than George W. Bush on the medical marijuana issue, as his administration cracks down on legal clinics in California. On the abortion issue, Romney would be more likely to send that issue back to the states where it belongs. Obama is worse on gun rights and most other freedom issues, but Romney is a far cry from a social-freedom candidate.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? I’m not comfortable with Romney’s overly aggressive posturing regarding Iran and other foreign-policy issues and believe that he would be surrounded by Republican hawks whose foreign policy is far too interventionist for my taste. Yet Obama’s level of incompetence in the foreign-policy realm is a potentially bigger problem. He has been just as willing to use force as Republicans, and I think his blundering and inconsistency could lead us into war as well. No good choice on this issue.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? To my shame: Bush, Bush and Obama. I voted for Dubya in 2000 because he promised a humbler foreign policy. We see how that turned out. I voted for him again in 2004 for reasons that I forget, but temporary insanity is the only excuse I can muster now. As I wrote in my newspaper column at the time, I voted for Obama because of my belief that John McCain should not be anywhere near a nuclear trigger given his hot temper, which he displayed during a newspaper editorial board meeting. I argued that a McCain/Palin administration would pursue policies not that much different from Obama, except that the GOP would be behind him as he pursued bigger government. I argued that an Obama administration would at least spark a backlash, and the Tea Party movement suggests I was correct on that point at least.

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? California’s Propositions 30 and 32. If Californians vote for Prop. 30, a massive tax increase, it will delay budget and other governmental reforms and make it less likely that my home state will ever get its fiscal act together. Giving more money to California’s wastrels always is like giving cocaine to a drug addict. Prop. 32 is paycheck protection and offers the best hope to rein in the power of public-sector unions by eliminating those automatic payroll deductions for politically used union dues. If things go poorly, then expect more taxpayers to flee.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? It seems like a pipe dream right now. But I remain an optimist. It’s easy to forget the many great strides that our society has made in the direction of openness and individual choice. I tend to be a nattering nabob of negativism as I report on the growth in government, but a vigilant public can turn things around. The other day, a friend of mine said we need a great pro-freedom leader to advance our cause, but we can’t wait for someone to save us. That's antithetical to the libertarian ideal. We need to roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves, which is why I now lead a nationwide network of investigative journalists to help spotlight the problems and perhaps lead to some local and state-based solutions.

Steven Greenhut is vice president of journalism at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. He is a regular contributor to Reason, the Orange County Register, Bloomberg and other publications. He is author of Plunder! and Abuse of Power. He lives in the Sacramento area.

A. Barton Hinkle

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? Gary Johnson (or, perhaps, Mitt Romney), based on the candidate's positions that matter most in the political realm: the role of government in the life of the individual and society.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? While Romney might be more pro-business than pro-free market, Obama's record on health care, green energy, economically significant regulations (those costing $100 million or more), "you didn't build that," and more proves him to be vastly worse.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Extremely close call. Obama gets points on gay marriage and reproductive rights, but loses them on free speech (see: Citizens United). Romney stakes out some unfortunate positions, but seems to do so as much out of political calculation as conviction. 

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? It's a photo finish.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? This space intentionally left blank.

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? Maryland's gay-marriage referendum - which, if it passes, will further erode the legitimacy of government sorting consenting adults into various groups based on certain traits alone, and then treating them differently on that basis.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? A realistic, non-utopian reading of that motto is a very real possibility. See: the growing acceptance of gay marriage and legalized pot, resistance to Obamacare, dismay over executive overreaching in the war on terror, support for the Tea Party, etc. Many Americans vigorously oppose excessive government power, although the vigor admittedly waxes and wanes depending on the issue. But most will not embrace the full menu of Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism, or support candidates who want to abolish an institution that works well in practice because it fails in theory. Americans incline to the pragmatic center.

A. Barton Hinkle is an editor and writer for the Richmond, Virginia, Times-Dispatch. His work appears in Reason and Regulation.

Rob Kampia

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? Gary Johnson, because he's the only presidential candidate who intends to shrink the side of the federal government, which includes ending federal raids against medical marijuana businesses.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? Obama is worse.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Obama and Romney would be variously better or worse than each other, depending on the social freedom in question.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? They're equally bad.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? Harry Browne, Michael Badnarik, and Bob Barr.

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? The marijuana legalization initiative (Amendment 64) in Colorado is the most important, because if it passes, Colorado would be the only place in the world where adult marijuana use, personal cultivation, wholesale business cultivation, and retail business sales would all be legal.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? In general, the federal, state, and local governments in the U.S. continue to restrict social and economic freedoms.  At the same time, the American people are becoming more libertarian - and outspokenly libertarian - in their beliefs.  Changes in public policy lag behind the wishes of the voters, but public policy will eventually catch up.  Reason is on the right side of history.

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

Manny Klausner

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? I'm enthusiastically voting for Gary Johnson, because I take liberty seriously, and I live in California - a non-battleground state that Obama will likely win by more than 1,000,000 votes.  To me, the worst choice would be to vote for Obama based on his disastrous performance to date, and his disrespect for liberty and the rule of law. He is a proponent of unconstrained government in virtually every sphere of life. However, I'm urging people to vote for Romney if they live in a battleground state, if it's a cliffhanger on the eve of the election.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? Barack Obama would be far worse.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Barack Obama would be worse as to school choice and free speech - the most critical of these issues.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? Barack Obama.
3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? In each of these elections, I voted (in California, a non-battleground state) to send a signal for "Free Minds and Free Markets" rather than voting for the lesser of the evils. Harry Browne, Michael Badnarik, and Bob Barr.

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? Prop 30 in California - if passed, this massive tax increase would dangerously accelerate the decline of California.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream (in 100 words or less)? It's attainable, but it's a major struggle - and we have to play the long game. However, this is a turning-point election, and a second Obama term would be devastating.

Manny Klausner is a lawyer, a former editor of Reason, and a co-founder of Reason Foundation.

Ed Krayewski

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? I’m likely to vote for Gary Johnson because Mitt Romney’s foreign policy is too bellicose and Barack Obama has been a huge disappointment. 

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? Barack Obama is worse on issues of economic freedom because of a lack of critical engagement of the negative consequences of government interventionism. Additionally, Romney has at least promised to sign and get passed free trade agreements, something that hasn't happened in the last four years. Neither, though, will critically engage the underlying wisdom of taxation and regulation that informs the federal government’s aggressive attitude toward those functions. 

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? I’m not sure there’s all that many differences between President Obama and Mitt Romney on most social freedom issues. While Obama is the first president to support state’s rights on gay marriage, the support has been largely rhetorical. Meanwhile, reproductive rights, as such, were not particularly curbed under George Bush and I doubt they would be under a Romney administration. The movement for school choice, spurred by demand on the ground, is unlikely to get push back from the federal government no matter which of the two is in charge.  

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? There are even less differences between Obama and Romney on foreign policy and terror issues. While Romney appears more outwardly bellicose, Obama’s foreign policy has largely been an adaptation of Bush’s and continues the roll-back of civil liberties as well as the expansion of an imperial presidency. While Romney would likely receive a cooler welcome onto the international stage than Obama did, friendlier relations with Europe have led to things like the illegal intervention in Libya and sanctions aimed at the Iranian regime that hurt the Iranian people instead. While a Romney victory might stir some anti-interventionism back into the Democratic party, an Obama victory could help the anti-interventionist faction emerging in the Republican party. However, as the bitter fruits of decades of interventionism continue to be reaped, anti-interventionism will gain political capital and traction irrespective of who the next president might be.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? I was too young to vote in 2000 but I was actually a campus field coordinate for the Gore campaign in northern New Jersey. In 2004 I ended up voting for Michael Badnarik and in 2008 for Obama.

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? Initiatives in support of legalizing marijuana, gay marriage, and charter schools are probably the most important. Passage of even just a handful would represent a significant milestone in moving public policy through petition. The policy approach to the drug war, especially, has been absolutely atrocious, with a tragic bipartisan consensus that insists we can’t surrender in the war on drugs even though by any sensible measure that war’s been lost despite the growing cost in blood and treasure. The Obama administration’s intent, meanwhile, to continue prosecuting the drug war even in places that have begun to liberalize their laws, even when they are swing states like Colorado, ought to remove any shred of doubt about his drug warrior status.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? The notion of free minds and free markets is real in 21st century America, more real even than it has been in centuries, especially because of the explosion of information technology. Though government is certainly growing and the range of national discourse is constantly shrinking, the tools to liberate minds and create free markets have never been more readily available. Modern technology may have made easier the task of building a totalitarian state and society, but it’s also invaluable to help drive and realize the innate human urge for freedom and self-sufficiency which will always win out in the end.

Ed Krayewski is an associate editor at Reason 24/7.

Baylen Linnekin

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? As I noted in my most recent column, I'm sitting this presidential election out. I've concluded that not voting is the only way I can be sure my choice won't betray me. It will be the first time ever that I'll avoid having to make this difficult choice

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? It's a tie. The GOP and the Dems got us into this mess together. And I've seen no reason to think either candidate has any idea how to get us out of the mess they and their parties created.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Tie. The Dems largely talk a good game. The GOP largely talks a bad game. And their policies once in office generally meet someplace in the dis-satisfying middle.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? Tie. Obama ran as the anti-Bush on foreign policy and then--Nobel Peace Prize in hand--doubled down on the Bush policies he promised to end. Romney appears to be running as John McCain when it comes to foreign policy. That is not a good thing.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? Gore, Kerry, Obama.

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? The measure I've been following most closely is Maryland's Question 6, a state referendum on same-sex marriage. As a registered Maryland voter, I'm very much looking forward to voting in support of gay marriage and equal rights in my state.  

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? I don't know. Whether it's a reality or not, the fact is that sort of change must happen in the courts rather than in national elections. Maybe Reason could hedge its bets by adopting a slightly less libertarian motto for contemporary America: "Freer Minds and Freer Markets."

Baylen Linnekin is a food law and policy columnist for Reason's website. He is an attorney, adjunct professor, and executive director of Keep Food Legal, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that advocates in favor of food freedom. The views he expresses in this presidential poll are his own.

Tibor Machan

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? Gary Johnson (mainly so as to keep the libertarian fire burning--so media can call upon him to spell out libertarian positions, etc.).

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? Looks to me Obama would be worse but given Romney's ill-advised China bashing, not by much.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Romney far worse. 

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? Neither has a feasible and suitable foreign policy perspective (a la George Washington). 

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? Libertarian candidate (again, to keep libertarianism in the news). 

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? Any time taxes are proposed, the answer must be no! 

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? Not a pipe dream but neither something that's in the cards these days.

Tibor R. Machan, a founder of the Reason Foundation, is R. C. Hoiles Chair in Business Ethics at Chapman University and author, most recently, of The Morality of Business, A Profession of Human Wealth Care.

Katherine Mangu-Ward

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? As I explained at great length in the cover story of the current issue of Reason magazine, I don't vote. You probably shouldn't either. 

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? (see below)

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? (see below)

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)?

There's less daylight between the two parties than they'd like you to believe. Democrats are rhetorically better on gay marriage and reproductive rights, for instance. But the actual legislative and regulatory outcomes on those issues during Obama's first term aren't that much different than they would have been under a Republican. Changes on the margins have symbolic value and can matter a lot to the people directly affected--the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, for instance.

Likewise, I like Republican chatter about regulation, taxes, and school choice, but those areas will also differ mostly on the margins. The D.C. Opportunity Scholarships will likely be restored under Romney, for instance, but true school choice isn't happening any time soon. Both parties are decent on free trade (although still subject to protectionist silliness), fine on free speech, and more or less indistinguishable on civil liberties, unfortunately. The outcomes of elections matter, but political expediency takes precedence over principle so often that picking a candidate based on what he says he believes won't do you much good.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? Didn't. 

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? I'm closely watching the marijuana initiatives in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Montana.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? While we're a long way from perfectly free markets, we're not doing too badly on free minds. Thanks to the ever-increasing profusion of ideas, information, and media there has never been a better time to be a person with a brain.

Katherine Mangu-Ward is managing editor of Reason magazine.

Dierdre McCloskey

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? Gary Johnson, because I always vote Libertarian. Back in the old days [when I taught at the University of Iowa) in Iowa City, I voted for Ron Paul and had the distinction of seeing my vote. In my precinct the next day in a left-wing university town there were 600 votes for the Dems, 150 for the GOP, and...one for the Libertarian. It was satisfying. Seriously, now, most Americans would vote Libertarian if they got the point. Let's keep explaining it.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? Obama would be worse, but unreliably so. Romney would favor his good friends in big corporations, which is no worse than favoring your good friends in the tire union.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Romney by a mile. True, if he had convictions, they would be "moderate." But he doesn't, and so he would be in the hands of the most illiberal voices in the Republican Party.  He would for example appoint more Scalias (Scaliae? Scalie?). 

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? Close call, since there is a bipartisan (but not tripartisan) agreement that the United States, because it is So Good, can do anything it damn well pleases, anywhere, to anybody. But Romney by a length in the stretch would be worse.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? The Libertarian candidates, whoever they were. Hmm. Can't bring them to mind.

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? The Senate race in Virginia, because it stands for the division between reactionary populism and progressive populism. Of the two I prefer the progressive sort.  

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? Possible, but it depends more on the artists than the journalists and professors. Ideas get really big when they are embodied in movies and popular novels and TV shows. Bollywood started criticizing cops and bureaucrats, and then India shifted towards free markets (it already had pretty much free minds). The Wire - the guy who made it thinks he is left wing - did more to cast the War on Drugs into doubt than any amount of instruction from we official libertarians.

Contributing Editor Deirdre McCloskey teaches economics, history, English, and communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her latest book is Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World.

Terry Michael

 1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? Gary Johnson. I was a professional Democrat for years, including press spokesman at the Democratic National Committee from 1983-87. Even with that long Democratic pedigree, this year I will be doing what I believe the Democratic Party's founders, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, would do: I'm voting for Gary Johnson for president. Obama, who I supported in 2008, ramped up another hideous elective war, rammed through corporate welfare for drug companies as "health care reform," and reneged on slowing prosecutions in the assault on freedom known as the War on Drugs. I'll vote on principle this time, for a two-term governor who wants to keep government out of our bank accounts, away from our bedrooms and bodies, and out of the backyards of the rest of the world. I'll vote for liberty.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? No doubt Obama would be worse. Mitt Romney will be better on fiscal and tax policy and regulation. But I am not naive. Both parties support oligarchic capitalism, not a free market economy.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Romney would be worse on social issues, a captive of the Republican Party's Southern-based Christianist, as well as militarist, wings.  But Romney himself, like Ronald Reagan, will give only lip service to the Christianists, because he knows the center is not social conservative. And it makes little difference, because we social liberals have won the culture war Pat Buchanan declared in 1992.  And the courts will follow the culture.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? Both parties are captives of the military-industrial-labor-congressional-media complex.  The "anti-war" candidate elected in 2008 immediately embraced the war profiteers by starting a "second war" in Afghanistan. The permanent state of warfare Madison and others warned about 200 years ago, as a threat to liberty, shows no sign of abating, because it is a jobs program for Democrats and corporate welfare for Republicans.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? Gore, Michael Badnarik, Obama. The 2000 vote was purely pragmatic, as I held my nose voting for the anti-Bush. In 2004, I couldn't be "pragmatic" when the empty suit Kerry said he would have voted for the war resolution even if he had known there were no weapons of mass destruction. And the 2008 vote was an enthusiastic vote for Obama, because I thought he was telling the truth about being anti-war and because I thought he would end identity politics and because I believed he was telling the truth about no health care mandates. I was fooled. But not this time.

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? Without doubt, the marijuana legalization initiatives. They're a step toward legalization of ALL psychoactives, which is absolutely essential to ending the government-created black market that pushes up prices and profits, for which people are willing to kill and die. Marijuana legalization itself will at least keep some people out of jail, but full legalization is essential to ending the violence and murder.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? Free minds is possible, because the next generation of desk-top empowered voters will demand choices in every aspect of their lives. Free markets are much more difficult, because oligarchic capitalism is so deeply ingrained in our governance.

Terry Michael is director of the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism and is a former press secretary for the Democratic National Committee.

Charles Oliver

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? I'm not going to vote for president this year. I live in a state that's pretty solidly Republican, and the odds of any single vote affecting the outcome are very small.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? Barack Obama strikes me as marginally worse than Mitt Romney on economic freedom. Yes, the numbers on Romney's tax plan don't add up, but at least his first reflex isn't to raise taxes. That's more than I can say about Obama. Obama's record on spending is very bad. I don't see how Romney could do worse. I don't expect Romney would cut spending. He seems unwilling to tackle entitlements or defense spending. But he might - might - reduce the rate of growth of spending, and it's clear that's more than Obama will do. But  I've seen nothing to indicate that Romney would scale back government assistance to big business and his bellicose remarks on China indicate he would be very bad on trade issues.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Social freedom, overall, seems like a tossup to me. Obama's better on reproductive rights. Romney is more likely to support school choice. Neither has shown a great devotion to the First Amendment. Obama has done little, if anything, to roll back the war on drugs, and Romney's likely to be at least as ardent a drug warrior.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse
regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)?
I don't need to tell Reason readers just how bad Obama has been on foreign and defense policy. But Romney promises to be even worse. He's said nothing about rolling back the security state that Obama and Bush built up and given little indication he opposes military intervention. Indeed, his only real criticism of Obama is that the president hasn't been bellicose enough.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? No one.

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? No one senator or congressman is going to have much of an impact on what happens in Washington. But a single sheriff or city council member or county commissioner can have a big impact on local government, so those races are the most important for most voters. Unfortunately, they don't get as much attention from the press or the public as they should.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? I wouldn't call it a pipe dream. But I don't think we are going to have truly free markets until more people have free minds. Or to put it another way, you aren't going to create a free nation through the ballot box. You have to change people's beliefs and their sense of life first. When you have a culture that supports free minds and free markets, then you'll have a government that respects them. But the culture has to change first, and it's going to be a long, difficult process to change the culture.

Charles Oliver is a Reason contributing editor who authors Brickbats and writes for the Dalton, Georgia Daily Citizen.

Garrett Quinn

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? Gary Johnson because my vote for president in Massachusetts is irrelevant.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? Barack Obama but only because we really don’t know which Mitt Romney will govern.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Romney overall but, as it is with him on economic issues, we really don’t know which Romney we’ll get as president. Will it be the corporate manager that doesn’t really care about social issues or will it be the severely conservative fellow we saw in the primary.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? Oh, flip a coin.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? 2000? I was too young. 2004: Kerry because he was from Mass. 2008: Bob Barr.

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? The race in the Massachusetts Sixth Congressional. Richard Tisei, a pretty libertarian guy, could make history by being the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress and restock the depleted ranks of Bill Weld northeast libertarianish Republicans.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? This is United States of America and we’re still, for the most part, the only country in the world where the government was founded on the idea of leaving people the hell alone. So, there’s that.

Garrett Quinn is the author of the Less Is More blog for the Boston Globe as well as a radio host on WRKO 680 in Boston. He is covering the 2012 campaign for Reason.com.

Anthony Randazzo

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? Gary Johnson. The more third party candidates like Gov. Johnson can draw at the polls, the greater the possibility that the third-party-candidates-don't-stand-a-chance psychology can be broken.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? Mitt Romney will be just as bad as President Obama on trade and energy policy. Meanwhile his economic plan panders to the middle class, lacks a principled approach to cutting spending, and wants to use the tax code for political manipulation just as much as President Obama, but with different constituencies. When Romney fails with his plan, real free market economic policies will be smeared with his failure, setting back favorable views of economic freedom in the long-run.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Mitt Romney. At least President Obama's base forces him to pander on a few social issues.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? This is just a matter of picking between which wars, interventions, and civil liberty violations we would prefer.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? The first time I voted for president was in 2004. I voted for George Bush as a protest vote against John Kerry. I voted for Bob Barr in 2008 (see above reasoning for Gary Johnson).

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? Yes on 64, Colorado 2012, the regulating of marijuana like alcohol. 

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? Incremental change eventually can make our mission a possibility—just think of the strides made on gay rights and the campaign for awareness of the disastrous effects of the drug war over the past 20 years. But where the boom years of the 1990s appeared to give economic freedom a global victory, the post-crisis mentality has been to blame free market ideology and deregulation for what was chiefly a regulatory failure. So whatever gains are made, there will never be an end to challenges or threats to free minds and free markets.

Anthony Randazzo is director of economic research at Reason Foundation.

Mike Riggs

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? I relinquished my Florida residency in 2011 with the expiration of my driver's license. I am now a resident of Washington, D.C., which is 75 percent Democratic. Because I cannot even begin to pretend that my vote matters, I will not be voting. 

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? If it's possible for anyone to be more generous to crony capitalists than Obama, it just might be Mitt Romney. Also, I keep hearing that he is going to spank those Chinese cheaters, but also that Solyndra is in the initial steps of suing China for dumping solar panels below cost in the U.S. market, which is just confusing as hell to me (Romney and Solyndra being on the same side, that is). On the regulatory front, Obama has done a bang-up job of making life harder for anyone who doesn't employ an army of compliance officers. Would Romney cut the red tape off at the spool? If he says so.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? While Romney would clearly be better for fetuses, Obama is better for the women who carry them. Gays and school choice advocates, like drug reformers, should keep fighting the good fight at the local and state level, and forget about Washington. Free speech has been in jeopardy since day one of the Obama administration, when the DOJ still went after Butt Man [the pornographer John Stagliano], an effort President Romney would duplicate many times over. 

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? If the first vice presidential debate was any indicator, the difference between Obama-Biden and Romney-Ryan on civil liberty and foreign policy is that the latter administration would be proud of its barbarism, not necessarily more or less barbaric. 

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? Nobody, nobody, and nobody. 

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? The marijuana legalization initiatives in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado; the sentencing reform initiative in California.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? The central planners aren't giving up, so I'm not going to either.

Mike Riggs is associate editor of Reason.com.

Damon W. Root

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? Gary Johnson.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? That’s hard to say. Between these two, it’s a race to the bottom.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Romney. I’ll give Obama the edge here because of his long-overdue support for gay marriage.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? Romney is certainly not the peace candidate, but then again Obama launched an undeclared war in Libya. I don’t see any real difference between these two on foreign policy.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? I voted for Michael Badnarik in 2004. I didn’t vote in 2000 and 2008.

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? I’m watching the fate of Question 1, an eminent domain reform referendum in Virginia that would amend the state constitution to prevent some Kelo-style land seizures where “the primary use is for private gain, private benefit, private enterprise, increasing jobs, increasing tax revenue, or economic development.”

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? I’m not what you would call an optimist, but I believe these things are worth fighting for.

Damon Root is a senior editor of Reason magazine.

Scott Shackford

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? Gary Johnson, probably the first time I won’t be embarrassed to admit whom I’m voting for (see below). He’s not nearly as libertarian in foreign policy and subsidies as needed, but certainly better than Obama and Romney.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? I don’t really think there’s a lesser evil here. They’re both awful. Mitt Romney talks a better game on economic freedom but I honestly don’t believe he’d do much different in office.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Both parties look at “social freedom” issues as a way to appeal to various voting blocs, not on their own merits, so it’s a wash. They both follow where certain polls lead.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? Obama is just awful, but Romney would most certainly compound Obama’s awfulness with even more awfulness, thanks to Obama’s expansion of executive power.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? Ralph Nader (sorry), John Kerry (sorry), Bob Barr (sorry).

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? The marijuana legalization and gay marriage recognition initiatives are important this year. If the polling holds true, it may be the first time either proposal survives an actual public vote.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? I think we are seeing a shift of political debate from conservative/liberal differences toward the direction of the libertarian/progressive divide (or at least inclusive of this second axis). I think it’s a long, hard slog, but at least we’re actually having the debate now.

Scott Shackford is an associate editor of Reason 24/7.

Peter Suderman

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? I’m not voting for anyone for president. First of all, my vote doesn’t count. Second of all, have you read my profile of Mitt Romney? I couldn’t vote for the guy. Third of all, have you read my profile of Barack Obama? Same deal. Couldn’t vote for that guy either. Third party? Nope. Sorry. Why bother? My vote doesn’t count.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? Obama, but only by a little. Obama’s record speaks for itself. Romney isn’t much different. He’s a GOP-friendly technocrat who would rather tweak bad federal policy than end it. But he’d probably hold the line on taxes and look for some small ways to restrain spending on the non-defense part of government.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Romney, but only by a little. The difference between the two is muddy in many ways, but the important clear contrast is that Obama now says he supports gay marriage. That took too long. But it’s a good thing, and all else being equal, I’d prefer a president who supports it to one who doesn’t.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? Tie. Obama has stuck with virtually all of the Bush administration’s worst civil liberties violations, and added a deeply disturbing death-by-drone program of his own. Romney could have attacked Obama for his wild expansions of executive power in this realm, but instead he’s stayed mostly mum on the civil liberties specifics while broadly criticizing Obama for being too timid about projecting American power abroad. 

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? In 2000 I tried to vote for Bush, but mostly out of sheer laziness never got around to returning my Florida absentee ballot. In 2004, I voted for Bush, which in retrospect was pretty stupid—perhaps even as stupid as voting for Kerry would have been. In 2008, I held my nose and took the trash out of my apartment on election day. But I didn’t vote. Taking out the trash was more satisfying, and more productive.

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? Colorado’s marijuana legalization initiative. It’s hard to think of any domestic policy that is as dim-bulb stupid, as cartoonishly anti-fun, and as cruelly inhumane as marijuana prohibition. If it ends up fully legal in even one of the 50 states, that will set a precedent that will be hard for others to ignore.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? Free minds? Sure, more or less. Free markets? Well, how about free…ish? It’s not even close to perfect, and sometimes it’s downright aggravating. But all in all, it’s not too bad either.

Peter Suderman is a Reason senior editor who writes frequently about health care and entitlements.

Jacob Sullum

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? Gary Johnson, because iSideWith told me to. Presumably that is because his views are closest to mine. Why else vote for a candidate, unless you really think you have the power to decide the outcome? If voting is primarily an expressive act (which it is), why not let the good be the enemy of the not quite as awful? For what it's worth, my iSideWith order of preference for the candidates who were still in the race at that point (July 12) went like this: Johnson, followed closely by Ron Paul, then Green Party nominee Jill Stein. Romney and Obama scored about the same, a distant fourth.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? Judging by what they say, the edge here goes to Obama. 

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Hard to say with that mix of issues. Romney's avowed positions are worse on gay marriage and reproductive rights, better on school choice. Romney is worse on free speech when it comes to porn, while Obama is worse on political speech, which even the most avid masturbator might admit is more important. 

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? With the possible exception of torture, this really seems like a wash to me. Democrats in opposition are arguably a little better than Republicans at challenging abuses of executive power, so maybe that gives a slight edge to Romney, although not due to any virtue of his.

3. Who did you vote for in 20002004, and 2008? Harry Browne, Michael Badnarik, Bob Barr. I admit I had to look up the first two, although giving Jacob Sullum someone to vote for may be the Libertarian Party's most important function. 

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? Marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado (Oregon too, although the chances there look slim). 

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream (in 100 words or less)? I reject your false dilemma. I say it's a real pipe dream.

Jacob Sullum is a Reason senior editor and a nationally syndicated columnist.

J.D. Tuccille

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? Gary Johnson. He represents the closest a competent, qualified presidential candidate has come in my lifetime to representing my view of the proper, very limited, role of government and of the relationship of the individual to the state. Since Romney and Obama are debating the degree to which they'd grow the state, there's no contest. 

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? Keeping in mind that presidents often embrace policies entirely at odds than those they espoused as candidates, I think Barack Obama would be a bit worse worse on economics. He clearly believes that the state should be deeply involved in managing the economy, while Romney at least promises a lesser government role. 

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? Romney might be a tad worse on social freedom - he's certainly less tolerant of gay issues and abortion, for sure. While Obama is terrible on school choice, I give him the edge on social freedom.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? Both Obama and Romney wallow in authoritarian overreach. We know that Obama's civil libertarian promises of his first presidential campaign were followed by enthusiastic embrace of indefinite detention, drone assassinations, warrantless wiretapping and the full apparatus of the modern security state. Romney's position is, essentially, "me too." They also both seem out of their depth beyond the U.S. border. To Hell with both of them.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? If I remember correctly, I voted Harry Browne in 2000, to sleep in and skip the process in 2004, and Bob Barr in 2008. I consider voting non-essential, but excusable as a defensive act and form of expression. Honestly, I sometimes half-complete a mail-in ballot, then toss it.

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? The marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington are important, both as efforts to extend the protected range of personal freedom and as screw-yous to the federal government. If state governments have value, it has to be in the form of occasionally interposing themselves between individuals and D.C. (the same can be said of the feds returning the favor). The ObamaCare initiatives in Alabama and Florida fall into the same category.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? I think "free minds and free markets" are always a possibility, but they increasingly find their niche in the interstices of regulated life. That's not because intrusive laws are new, but because the government has vastly more resources than in the past with which to enforce them. Fortunately, greater resources are also available to practitioners in the shadow economy and opponents of the state.

J.D. Tuccille is the managing editor at Reason 24/7 and the author of the novel High Desert Barbecue.

Jesse Walker

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? Gary Johnson.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? I suspect Obama is worse, but you never know. Romney's rhetoric on China certainly makes me dubious that he'll be any kind of free trader.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? I'll say Romney is worse, but again I have reservations. There are a few areas, such as religious liberty, where he may turn out to be better. As with economic and foreign policy, the significant story isn't that one candidate is marginally preferable to the other; it's how terrible they both are.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? Romney is more likely to start a war with Iran, so I'll give him the dunce crown here. Do not take that as an endorsement of anything in Obama's foreign policy record.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? Harry Browne, Michael Badnarik, Bob Barr.

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? The marijuana initiatives in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, a triple opportunity to give a vote of no confidence to the drug war.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? It isn't a pipe dream to demand freer minds and markets. We'll see how far we can take it.

Jesse Walker is a Reason senior editor and the author of a forthcoming book on paranoia and American politics.

Matt Welch

1. Which presidential candidate are you voting for and why? Gary Johnson, because he reflects my views more than any presidential candidate I've ever had the chance to vote for, because I know and like him personally (weird!), and because I am voting in a state (New York) that will certainly favor Barack Obama. The president richly deserves to be fired, for his economic mismanagement, his lying, and his ass-covering, speech-constricting response to the Benghazi attacks, but my vote cannot impact that. It is important to me that the preference for limited government be expressed by (at minimum!) a third-place showing on election day.

2a. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding economic freedom, including things such as industrial policy, free trade, regulation, and taxes? The only scenario under which I can imagine Romney being any worse than Obama on economic freedom is if we were in multiple costly new wars on the day that borrowing costs spiked up. Though Romney has campaigned against Medicare cuts and for boosting military spending, he is still rhetorically in a much different place than the Keynesian in Chief, and most importantly so is his political party. I have at least some hope that the limited-government grassroots will apply much more pressure to keep their man in line than the anti-war/pro-civil liberties left has placed on Obama.

2b. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding social freedom issues such as gay marriage, free speech, school choice, and reproductive rights? An edge to the incumbent, with caveats. Obama wins big on legal abortion rights (though it's unclear to me how much practical difference on that issue there would end up being). Romney is better on school choice, but I'm not sure how much difference that will make. Obama has been lousy on free speech and drug enforcement, but is there much to suggest that Romney is better? Dems are better with gays, Repubs are better with guns. Both disrespect individuals once in power. It's a big, messy category.

2c. Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who do you think would be worse regarding foreign policy, military interventions, and the global war on terror (including domestic restrictions on civil liberties)? Romney has sketched out a more interventionist, more chest-thumping posture than Obama's already significant buttinskyism. He has shown zero interest that I've seen in curtailing any of Obama's civil liberties abuses. Neither party seems capable of rallying around the concept of imperial pruning, let alone pullback, and as long as that's the case, I'm afraid we're creating the conditions for an eventual unplanned, chaotic retreat. While Obama deserves to be punished for his interventionism and civil liberties degradations, Romney has done nothing to earn that particular protest vote.

3. Who did you vote for in 2000, 2004, and 2008? Ralph Nader, largely because of my support for campaign finance restrictions, a subject on which I have since totally changed my mind, but also as a protest against bipartisan civil liberties abuse; John Kerry (to fire George W. Bush); and no one (would have been Bob Barr if I had completed the paperwork in time).

4. Apart from the presidency, what do you think is the most important race or ballot initiative being decided this fall? By far, the marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon. Getting the first state into full and open defiance of federal drug laws is the essential first step in finally ending drug prohibition, which has been one of the single most ruinous and murderous policies in American history.

5. Reason's libertarian motto is "Free Minds and Free Markets." In contemporary America, is that notion a real possibility or a pipe dream? To paraphrase the individualist-anarchist (and gold-seller!) Louis Carabini, there's no need to wait for government - we can all become our own gold standard. Not that I'm interested in precious metals (yet!) but rather that the most crucial work of freedom happens between the ears. On that front, I am optimistic that the conditions for personal freedom are better now than ever, both here and abroad. But this happy fact is in conflict with a teetering yet ever-expanding state. The tension between the two is arguably the fundamental conflict of our times.

Matt Welch is editor in chief of Reason magazine and co-author with Nick Gillespie of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America.