Who Will Get Our Votes?
reason's 2016 presidential poll
In every national election since 2004, reason has asked staffers, contributors, and other libertarian-relevant human beings to tell us who they're voting for and why.
We do this in the spirit of transparency. Too many journalists are overly precious about maintaining the appearance of objectivity; reason strives instead to be open and honest with our readers about the individual and collective biases that go into producing the magazine you hold in your hands.
While participation is not mandatory, we ask reason's staffers and associates to share what they do in their private ballot box time because we believe that showing our math year after year lets readers better calibrate their expectations about our coverage and balance their media diet as they see fit.
In 2016, as in past years, our survey yielded a high percentage of voters for the Libertarian Party nominee, but the results were far from monolithic. The Gary Johnson/William Weld ticket pulled a majority, but there were also "none of the above"s, "maybe"s, if/thens, a reluctant Green voter, an elaborate write-in, and even a few supporters of Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. In an attempt to measure red vs. blue sentiment among third-party and opt-out voters—a growing segment of the general electorate as well as the reason staff—we also asked which of the major party candidates our respondents found most alarming. Trump grabbed a decisive but not unanimous win in that category.
We took some early readings on the levels of Obama nostalgia present in the reasonverse, asking what people would miss about the last eight years. Answers ranged from the sincere ("his eloquence and his adult common sense," his "stabs at criminal justice reform") to the sarcastic ("Barack's empathetic understanding of small-town Americans," "watching progressives realize that cool black presidents can be just as bad as uncool white presidents," "Joe Biden's gaffes").
Nothing in what follows should be construed as an official endorsement for any candidate or cause. These are the personal views of individual participants and not the official views of reason or Reason Foundation, which is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and as such doesn't endorse particular candidates or specific pieces of legislation. Legalese aside, we do hope what follows is interesting, informative, and at least mildly enlightening.
(This special online edition of the survey includes 10 bonus replies—everyone after Dave Barry. Enjoy!)
Nick Gillespie, editor in chief of reason.com and Reason TV, is co-author of The Declaration of Independents (PublicAffairs).
Who are you voting for? I'm voting for Gary Johnson, whose platform comes the closest to expressing my libertarian sentiments about the role of government. I like that he and Bill Weld are talking about cutting the size, scope, and spending of government and allowing people more choices in how we live our lives.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? I find both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton unacceptable choices. Trump's xenophobia and protectionism are truly disturbing and so is his absolute lack of relevant experience. Clinton's foreign policy, attitude toward the surveillance state, and spending priorities are simply awful.
Who did you vote for in 2012? Gary Johnson.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? The foolish, momentary optimism some people had that nothing could be as bad as the Bush years.
Rep. Thomas Massie represents Kentucky's 4th congressional district.
Who are you voting for? I've voted for Bob Barr (Libertarian) and Pat Buchanan (Reform Party) for POTUS in the past, but this year I plan to vote for Donald Trump.
Katherine Mangu-Ward is editor in chief of reason.
Who are you voting for? I never vote. You almost certainly shouldn't either. The likelihood that your vote will decide the election is so small that it makes winning a MegaBucks jackpot look like a sure thing, doubly so if you don't live in a swing state. There are better ways to participate in the political process than voting—complaining about the slate of choices, for instance, is a sacred American right and duty—that also make you less complicit in the inevitable bad outcome. As I wrote in a 2012 reason story: "There are some good reasons for some people to vote some of the time. But there are a lot more bad reasons to vote, and the bad ones are more popular."
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? Trump is more alarming, but I am also alarmed at the extent to which he has wrecked the curve for alarm. In other words: I find it alarming that people aren't more alarmed by Clinton.
Who did you vote for in 2012? Didn't.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? I like the exhausted resignation that comes at the end of a president's second term. Everyone's expectations are appropriately calibrated and their cynicism is firmly in place. A new president means new flareups of hope and panic across the spectrum on the issues I care most about, including criminal justice reform, drug legalization, deregulation, entitlement reform, privacy, and government spending.
Bob Barr, a former congressman, was the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee in 2008.
Who are you voting for? Still undecided.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? The jury is still out on this close call.
Who did you vote for in 2012? Romney.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? Joe Biden's gaffes.
Editor at Large Matt Welch is co-author of The Declaration of Independents (PublicAffairs). From 2013 to 2015, he co-hosted The Independents on the Fox Business Network.
Who are you voting for? Gary Johnson, because I am a libertarian.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? Donald Trump. On policy alone, he wants a bigger infrastructure stimulus/boondoggle than Hillary Clinton, wants to do a considerably more thorough job of dismantling the global tariff-reduction system, is much more explicit about punishing American companies who would dare to move their businesses overseas, and would mount up an even larger and more dangerous pile of national debt. He also has supported deporting an estimated 4 million U.S. citizens, ripping up the international visa/travel system, and establishing a religious test for travel to America. He's an ignoramus about basic policy facts, lies even more readily than Clinton (and that's saying something), and has introduced a National Front-style politics that I naively thought would never stick on U.S. soil.
Who did you vote for in 2012? Gary Johnson, very happily.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? I'll miss The Independents. Which, in addition to being one helluva good cable news program, pointed toward what I think might be a better future for political discourse, one we aim for at reason every day: Remove thyself from tribe, try thy damndest to speak honestly about the news, and also recognize that politics is an inherently absurd and grubby business that pales in meaning compared to the broader pursuit of happiness.
Bob Poole is founder, trustee, and director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation and a former editor of reason.
Who are you voting for? I have agonized for months over which horrible major candidate would be worse for our liberties, at several points being tempted to hold my nose and vote for Trump—mostly because of upcoming Supreme Court vacancies. But as I write, that seems like avoiding a hanging by opting for drowning. So my likely decision will be to proudly vote "Hell, no" to them both, by going for Johnson and Weld-by far the most qualified and most pro-liberty choice. If 20 percent of the voters did that, whoever wins could hardly claim a mandate for his or her terrible policies.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? Trump is clearly unqualified, as well as having vicious anti-liberty and anti-market ideas. Clinton is an ardent statist, even more committed than Trump to expanding government control and appointing anti-constitutionalists to the Supreme Court. So it's really hard to say which combination is worse.
Who did you vote for in 2012? In 2012 I reluctantly voted Republican, as the lesser evil.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? I will miss nothing about the Obama years; I'll be very glad to have them behind us.
Drew Carey is the host of The Price Is Right and a trustee of Reason Foundation.
Who are you voting for? I'm voting for Gary Johnson. He's got the best ideas, the best temperament, and, frankly, the most experience in actually governing of anyone running. He's clearly the best person for the job. It's not even close.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? I find Tr*mp to be the most alarming candidate. I think he's mentally unstable. Maybe not to the point where his family could commit him to a mental hospital against his will, but enough where you don't want him in charge of the deadliest and most powerful military in the history of mankind. Or the FBI. Or the CIA. Or the IRS. Or any other government agency that has been used, historically, to sic on one's enemies. I don't think he'd even try to govern. He'd leave all the paper-worky stuff to Mike Pence while he stayed up late trying to figure out how to use the power of his office to settle scores. No comedian would be safe. We'd all be making fun of him and then, oh hey, guess what? Suddenly all our phones would be tapped because Tr*mp gets even! He'd probably start a war because he didn't get enough sleep.
I wish it were just ideas. But it goes way beyond that. I think he's a genuine sociopath. And out of love, I sincerely hope that someone close to him gets him the help he needs after he loses this election. He's got money, a hot wife, a loving family. He should be the happiest, most grateful man in the world, but instead he's the angriest, most miserable -motherfucker ever. I really don't get it. But that's his burden. Let's not make it ours.
(Side note: Hey, Donald! After you lose the election, feel free to reach out to me. I will honestly give you all the love you need and get you the best spiritual and psychiatric help I can find for you. You shouldn't have to go through life like this. I mean it. Unconditional love here. But you're crazy and you can't be the president. Give me a hug.)
Who did you vote for in 2012? I always vote the Libertarian ticket for president.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? I can't give you the type of answer I think you're looking for here. One, because The Price Is Right isn't exactly overburdened with any of his new government regulation, so we're cool there. And because I never think of years of my life as somebody else's years. Whoever is president, mayor, head of Fishing and Game—I just work my way around them and do what I want. And I've always been like that since I was young. If I wanted weed, I just found a guy on campus who sold it. If I felt like jaywalking, I just jaywalked. I've paid kids cash to mow my lawn.
Some stuff I couldn't get around, thankfully. My house is up to code and I was cool with all that paperwork, annoying as it was. But that had nothing to do with Obama. He kept wars going I wish had been stopped. He didn't close Guantanamo like he promised. He rule-fucked the internet. The ACA seemed like the worst answer to a bad problem.
But he never seemed comic-book-villain evil like Tr*mp, or as super-insincere as Hillary, so there's that. I mean, he'd be cool to hang with, right? Hmmm…Oh, hey! I just thought of something! I'll miss his slow jams with Jimmy Fallon.
Senior Editor Jacob Sullum is author, most recently, of Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use (Tarcher/Penguin).
Who are you voting for? Assuming my absentee ballot arrives in Jerusalem, I plan to vote for Gary Johnson, whose views most closely resemble mine. What's the point of voting if your choice nauseates you?
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? Clinton would be terrible in entirely predictable ways, while Trump still has the potential to surprise us with his awfulness. A Trump presidency would be more interesting (especially as an illustration of our political system's checks and balances) and a lot funnier. Whatever Clinton does, it will not be amusing.
Who did you vote for in 2012? Gary Johnson.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? Obama has a sincere interest in criminal justice reform (although he has not always acted on it), while Clinton mostly seems to be faking it. He is also more pleasant to listen to than Clinton or Trump, even when he's completely full of shit.
Shikha Dalmia is a senior analyst at Reason Foundation.
Who are you voting for? There has never been a time when the Libertarian candidate has been so superior to the two sordid mainstream offerings. But this time I am seriously contemplating going with Hillary Clinton (provided she gets no worse) for the simple reason that there is no more important task than defeating Donald Trump.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? Trump is the closest thing to a tyrant that America has seen, given his open contempt for all forms of checks and balances: Congress, courts, media, basic norms of human decency. Trump has the soul of a Third World potentate, just with less discipline and finesse. If Hillary digs the soft tyranny of the regulatory state, he has a taste for the hard tyranny of the police state. Both are bad, but he poses an imminent threat to the republic. She is like a slow advancing cancer, and therefore holds out some hope for a cure.
Who did you vote for in 2012? I penciled in Gary Johnson because I could not bear the thought of voting for Obama or Romney.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? Obama's good looks and personal charm, since his brains are overrated (especially by him) and his public policies wrongheaded.
Scott Shackford is an associate editor at reason.
Who are you voting for? I'm voting for Gov. Gary Johnson. Even though he's flawed on several libertarian matters, he is still significantly better than either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? I dislike them both, but Trump is far more alarming in the sense that it is utterly impossible to predict what he would do. I can't trust him even when his positions seem to align with libertarianism, because I have no evidence they'll stay that way.
Who did you vote for in 2012? Gary Johnson.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? The stabs at criminal justice reform, most likely. Clinton is promising to keep it up, but I don't really trust her to follow through if it becomes politically difficult. Also likely: the -president's ability to give a speech where he merely sounds condescending and not also stilted and hectoring.
Jeff A. Taylor
Contributing Editor Jeff A. Taylor is a Georgia-based journalist.
Who are you voting for? Trump. Hillary Clinton is a sociopath who almost certainly would commit United States conventional forces to war with some combo of China, Russia, and Iran—possibly all three. Donald Trump is merely an ass clown. He will not be the first I've voted for, thanks to the red/blue duopoly. There is also the very good possibility that Trump would be satiated—overwhelmed, even—with a single term in office while Clinton would do or say anything to secure the vital affirmation of re-election.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? What really cemented HRC as a despot-in-waiting for me was her conspiracy to evade Freedom of Information Act regulations as secretary of state. Politicians of all hues-red, blue, green, saffron-may not like FOIA, but they've made peace with it over the decades. Not Hillary. She's above the mere law. Always has been. As victim in chief, we would all be made to feel her pain. I will not enable that.
Who did you vote for in 2012? Did not.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? The certitude. The guy has basically said the same thing, over and over, for the eight years. I attribute this to the incredible message discipline of [White House Senior Advisor] Valerie Jarrett.
Elizabeth Nolan Brown
Elizabeth Nolan Brown is an associate editor at reason.
Who are you voting for? I will probably not vote—I'm not currently registered anywhere—but if I do, it will be for Johnson/Weld.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? Clinton is alarming in predictable ways; she'll be bad in ways we're used to. Trump is alarming because he's a wild card. On policy it's probably a wash overall, but there's less chance Hillary will send us into another Cold War over a Twitter fight or something.
I've got a bit of a burn-it-all-down streak in me, and I think Trump could get us there faster, so there's a part of me that is excited for a potential Trump win. But I wouldn't choose it, if somehow I were in a spot to do so. It's such a privileged position to be able to look on the bright side of a possible Trump presidency, because I'm not worried about me or my loved ones being impacted directly and negatively by his immigration plans or his propensity to foment racial discord.
Who did you vote for in 2012? I didn't vote in 2012.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? The creeping sense of disillusionment and despair he inspired in once-idealistic millennial friends?
Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey is author, most recently, of The End of Doom (Thomas Dunne).
Who are you voting for? Johnson/Weld. Libertarian-lite, but still libertarian.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? Trump. He is a dangerously insane megalomaniac, but always keep in mind that Clinton is a longtime grafter who is utterly without principles.
Who did you vote for in 2012? Johnson/Gray.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? Being younger and less cynical.
Robby Soave is an associate editor at reason.
Who are you voting for? I'm voting for Gary Johnson. The only thing that could change that is bureaucratic incompetence: I'm registered to vote in Michigan but am currently living in Virginia and moving to D.C. before the election. If I can find my ballot, I'll cast it for the Libertarian.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? The "most alarming" designation is a race to the absolute bottom. At one point in my life, I thought President Obama was an "alarming" candidate; now I'd be positively giddy if he could serve a third term. Anyway, Trump is more alarming than Clinton. He's bad on everything, whereas Clinton is only bad on almost everything.
Who did you vote for in 2012? I cast an absentee ballot for Gary Johnson, though I'm not positive they counted it.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? His speeches. The man gives good speeches.
Former reason staffer Bill Kauffman's books include Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette (Holt), Ain't My America (Metropolitan), and the screenplay for the feature film Copperhead (Dzanc).
Who are you voting for? I voted for Gary Johnson in 2012 and I'd like to do so again, but I shan't, because a Libertarian Party that refuses to defend Christian bakers is less than worthless. I voted for Bernie in the New York primary and I'll probably fill in the blank for Jill Stein, the Green candidate, on November 8. (Yeah, I know, they're both bad on religious liberty too, but at least Stein is forthrightly anti-war, and besides, she doesn't claim to be libertarian.)
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? I much prefer Trump, who has erratically pacific impulses, to the odious Hillary. I find the anti-Trump hysteria ridiculous, especially when it issues from those who, like Hillary, supported the Iraq war. Instead of spraying us with their sanctimonious musk, these folks should be midway through a quarter-century vow of silence during which they atone for their shameful shilling for that wicked war by washing the prostheses of vet amputees and cleaning the bedpans of soldiers who suffered traumatic brain injuries. But careerists aren't into expiation.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? I'll miss Barack's empathetic understanding of small-town Americans and Michelle's sparkling wit.
Manny Klausner, an attorney, is co-founder, trustee, and legal advisor at Reason Foundation and a former editor of reason.
Who are you voting for? I'm enthusiastically voting for Gary Johnson, because I take liberty seriously, and I live in California—a non-battleground state that Clinton will likely win by more than 1,000,000 votes.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? Clinton is the most alarming, by far. She has an extreme left-wing agenda that would undermine free minds and free markets, including massive tax hikes in addition to onerous mandates and regulations. She likely would continue the Obama practice of politicizing the IRS and Justice Department, and using the federal government as a weapon against her political and ideological opponents.
Moreover, the likelihood that the next president will nominate several Supreme Court justices in the next four years is reason enough for voters in battleground states to vote for Trump—rather than Johnson—if their state is a cliffhanger on the eve of the election.
Who did you vote for in 2012? I voted (in California, a non-battleground state) for Gary Johnson.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? Should Clinton become president, I'll miss the potential for the Supreme Court to issue landmark decisions upholding constitutional rights, as in Citizens United (First Amendment) and McDonald (Second Amendment).
Stephanie Slade is managing editor of reason.
Who are you voting for? I'll be abstaining this year, mostly because I live in Washington, D.C., which is a positive lock to go for the Democratic nominee no matter what (thank God).
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? I stand with P.J. O'Rourke: Hillary is the second worst thing that could happen to our country. Donald is the first.
Who did you vote for in 2012? In 2012 I supported Mitt Romney. As reason's resident pro-life libertarian, I have virtually always voted Republican, a trend that ends in flames this year.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? The 2016 election is proof you don't know what you have until it's (almost) gone. I never imagined I'd long for another term for Barack Obama. But four more years of an honest, mostly pro-trade president who thinks America should be welcoming toward refugees fleeing war zones in desperation now sounds like only the fifth or sixth worst thing that could happen to America.
Anthony L. Fisher
Anthony L. Fisher is an associate editor at reason.
Who are you voting for? I'm voting for Gary Johnson because the two-party system has left me with choices I find unacceptable. I refuse to be baited by the apocalyptic rhetoric that claims I have a moral obligation to vote for an incoherent fascist or a warmongering, censoring drug prohibitionist. Johnson, refreshingly, has not promised to save the world or buy us all off with free stuff.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? With a gun to my head, I'd say I find Trump to be more alarming than Clinton, only because I can fairly expect how awful Clinton will be, whereas Trump's erratic flailing with regard to trade and foreign policy—to say nothing of his flirtations with white nationalism—create too many frightening rabbit holes to consider crawling into.
Who did you vote for in 2012? I also voted for Johnson in 2012 (a simpler time when Bain Capital was the bogeyman that Vladimir Putin is today), because after voting for Obama in 2008, I needed a third-party chaser.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? The regular features in The Onion depicting Joe Biden as a low-level pot dealer. [Wipes away solitary tear.]
Ed Krayewski is an associate editor at reason.
Who are you voting for? Probably Gary Johnson, because he's the only presidential candidate interested in reducing the role of government.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? Hillary Clinton, because her awfulness has been so normalized that I expect Republicans will be unwilling or unable to check her power while Democrats won't even dream of it. At least with Trump you might have a Congress motivated to reassert its powers vis-a-vis the executive branch.
Who did you vote for in 2012? Gary Johnson.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? I was young and beautiful when they started.
Contributing Editor Deirdre McCloskey is emerita professor of economics, history, English, and communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Who are you voting for? Johnson and Weld, of course. When I see them on TV I shout to my dog and the empty room, "Gawd! These guys are soooooo much better than Hillary or, Lord help us, Trump!" Better than creeping socialism or lurching fascism. The argument you hear that a third-party candidate "wastes your vote" is pretty silly. Any economist or political scientist knows that in every case except a literal tie a single vote doesn't "count." And I vote in Illinois, safely Hillary. Most Libertarian votes will come out of Trump, no bad thing. And if Jill and Trump and Our Guys prevent Hillary from getting 270 electoral votes (Go Greens!) the House decides. In its present configuration it will decide for Johnson and Weld. Yes, I know: fat chance.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? Trump, natch. Hillary will merely get us into another idiotic state-building war. Trump will invade Mexico, and then Canada. Seriously, Hillary will appoint civil libertarians to the Court. A good bet is that Trump will lose the Senate for the GOP, and so her appointments will stick. If Trump wins he will appoint literal and figurative fascists.
Who did you vote for in 2012? Whomever the Libertarian candidate was. I forget who it was. Semper fi.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? His eloquence and his adult common sense.
Thaddeus Russell teaches history at Willamette University and is the founder of Renegade University. His most recent book is A Renegade History of the United States (Free Press).
Who are you voting for? I think I'll write in multiple candidates: three women—Hanan al-Ferjani, Salma Mohammed Abu Hasina al-Ja'arud, and Fatima Aquil Salah al-Ja'arud—and a 9-month-old girl named Salma, who were killed in one of the houses in Libya that were bombed in the campaign that Hillary Clinton championed. I know that as non–U.S. citizens they won't be eligible, but I'm not too worried about technicalities. Plus, I think it's important to make a statement that a woman can be president.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? I am alarmed by the possibility of a war with China (Trump) and a war with Russia (Clinton), by the proposal to register Muslims in a database (Trump) and the actual ongoing surveillance of all citizens (Clinton), by the idea of building a wall on the border (Trump) and the actual ongoing building of a fence on the border (Clinton), by the possibility of the president using nuclear weapons in a fit of pique (Trump) and the expansion of a global U.S. military empire (Clinton)…Do I need to go on?
Who did you vote for in 2012? Abdulrahman Anwar al-Awlaki.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? Watching progressives realize that cool black presidents can be just as bad as uncool white presidents.
J. Neil Schulman
J. Neil Schulman is author of the novel Alongside Night and director of its film adaptation.
Who are you voting for? I will likely not vote in the 2016 presidential election. However, if my home state of Nevada were evidently to be a swing state that could put Hillary Clinton in the White House, I might go to the polls and vote for whichever candidate could most likely prevent that.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? I find Hillary Clinton most alarming. Her abandoning hard-won full diplomatic relations with Libya by aligning the United States with anti-Gadhafi rebels, after Gadhafi abandoned his weapons of mass destruction and paid reparations for Pan Am 103, showed hostile regimes that the United States could not be trusted to keep its word. That message to North Korea and Iran, that the diplomatic word of the United States was worthless, is the most destabilizing act in modern history.
Who did you vote for in 2012? Gary Johnson.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? Congressional gridlock.
Peter Suderman is managing editor of reason.com.
Who are you voting for? My vote—like yours—doesn't count, as Katherine Mangu-Ward explained in the November 2012 issue of reason. So typically I don't vote.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? Trump, for his intellectual laziness, his total disinterest in policy, and his authoritarian tendencies.
Who did you vote for in 2012? No one.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? My early 30s.
Books Editor Jesse Walker is author, most recently, of The United States of Paranoia (HarperCollins).
Who are you voting for? If I vote, it will be for Gary Johnson. I may try to pretend William Weld isn't on the ticket.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? I don't think "alarming" is the right word for Hillary Clinton. She promises more of the same crap we've been getting for years; that's not alarming so much as it's suffocating and depressing. So this one has to go to Trump, who keeps coming up with innovative new ways to be terrible.
Who did you vote for in 2012? Gary Johnson.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? Despite the Libya war, the ISIS war, and the drone war, Obama has acquired an undeserved reputation in some circles as a dove, just because of his occasional hesitation or regret about an intervention abroad. Those little bursts of scruples aren't much, but I have a feeling it won't take me long to be nostalgic for them.
Dave Barry is a novelist and newspaper columnist.
Who are you voting for? Probably the Libertarians, because Hillary Clinton is pathologically dishonest and Donald Trump is insane. If the vote in Florida is really close, I might vote for Clinton. But first I will have to get very drunk, so I won't remember doing it.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? Trump, because he is insane. I'm not saying he would be our first insane president, but he would be our first openly insane president.
Who did you vote for in 2012? I don't remember. I was drunk.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? Being able to say, "At least it can't get much worse."
Contributing Editor David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post. He declined to answer our query about 2016—it is the Post's policy for reporters not to say who they're voting for—but he was willing to answer our final question.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? I think it's a very good thing that the wild optimism that accompanied Obama was put in check. One of the stranger aspects of this election cycle was seeing so many people flock to Bernie or Trump in the hopes that an Honest Politician could fix Washington. That baffled me—for a whole generation, the lesson of Obama was that there are gigantic and often useful veto points and that you should not see presidential candidates as white knights. You should not idolize them. You want change? You're on your own; get to work. You're scared that the new leader will "fundamentally transform" the country? Actually, you can stop him.
I'll miss that hard national lesson—and I'll miss Biden. Of course. Who won't miss Biden? Lucky for some of us, there'll always be Amtrak.
Former reason staffer Radley Balko writes the blog The Watch for The Washington Post.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? On many of the issues where the pre–White House Obama shared common ground with libertarians, Obama the president managed to be both a disappointment and probably better than any president in recent memory. Most of what he did with criminal justice reform was symbolic, but symbolism is still important. It's significant to have a president and attorney general say we're overincarcerated, that civil asset forfeiture is frequently abused, that police brutality is real, that systemic racism taints the criminal justice system, and so on. I suspect we'll look back on those moments in several years and realize how important and historic they were.
I wish we didn't insist that the president address every crisis, tragedy, or disaster. But that's where we are today. And so I'd add that after watching the two conventions, the prospect of four years of listening to Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton lecture us after every terror attack, mass shooting, or major foreign policy decision has me missing Obama already. I often disagree with him, but I've rarely been embarrassed to hear the president speak over the last eight years. I feel like that's about to change.
Contributing Editor Cathy Young is a columnist for Newsday.
Who are you voting for? Almost certainly Gary Johnson—unless the race in New Jersey is actually close, in which case I will have to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton. As P.J. O'Rourke so brilliantly put it, she's (mostly) wrong, but she's wrong within normal parameters.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? Without a question, Donald Trump. I have resisted Trump alarmism before, and I still think it's far from a foregone conclusion that catastrophe awaits if he wins the election. But so far, the only "pivot" we have seen from Trump is toward more erratic behavior. It may be a fascinating experiment to hand the vast powers of the presidency to an unstable narcissistic sociopath—literally, not in the metaphorical sense in which this description can be applied to plenty of other politicians—but I'd rather not be in the middle of it. And yes, I fully agree that those powers should be scaled down. Political reform is long overdue. But I'm not a fan of the "burn it all down" approach to home improvement.
Who did you vote for in 2012? Gary Johnson. Hope springs eternal, doesn't it?
What will you miss most about the Obama years? The fact that for most of Obama's presidency, the idea of Donald Trump as the GOP candidate was imaginable only as a Saturday Night Live skit.
Todd Krainin is a producer for Reason TV.
Who are you voting for? I'll #feelthejohnson in the voting booth. The temptation to go full Katherine Mangu-Ward and give zero shits about casting my ballot will always be with me. But the Libertarian Party managed to overcome its longstanding ideological purity death wish and nominate a pair of accomplished, affable, scandal-free, real-world politicians. That's worthy of my support.
Sure, I wish Johnson were a more articulate (and less aw-shucksy) promoter of libertarian ideas. And oh how I wish Weld were more, you know, libertarian. But these gripes are small potatoes compared to the failed insurrections and the hold-your-nose-and-vote disillusionment coming from the major parties.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? I have no doubt that Donald Trump would make a fine insult comedian. The zingers. The thinly disguised anger. The absence of empathy or propriety. But what's virtuous in a jokester looks a lot like a prelude to despotism in a presidential candidate.
Who did you vote for in 2012? Gary Johnson.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? I will miss Obama's aloofness. To many Americans, this was his greatest character flaw. But after months of being subjected to moralizing shouters from both major parties, I'm reminded how much I like a president who governs with a cool head and measured words.
Jason Keisling is a visual content fellow at reason.
Who are you voting for? Gary Johnson. He's the only candidate who would make it a priority to reduce the size of government. Jill Stein is pretty good on foreign policy and civil liberties, but she wants to expand rather than reduce government in most other areas. Clinton and Trump offer little to nothing toward reducing the size of government.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? Trump. A Trump presidency is frightening, especially in regards to his egregious positions on free speech and his misguided attacks on Muslims and Mexicans.
Who did you vote for in 2012? Gary Johnson.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? There's little to celebrate about his first term, but in his second term he did some good things with Cuba relations and criminal justice reform. While not perfect, his second term seemed to have fewer expansions of government and a less imperialistic foreign policy (though the bar wasn't set high). And if Trump's elected, I will also miss the Republican opposition to expansions in executive power (though I'll welcome back the liberal opposition).
A former American Civil Liberties Union board member, Wendy Kaminer is the author of Worst Instincts: Cowardice, Conformity, and the ACLU (Beacon Press).
Who are you voting for? Living in reliably blue Massachusetts, where my vote in the presidential doesn't count, I have the luxury of casting protest votes. So, assuming Clinton will carry the Commonwealth, I'll vote for Gary Johnson in 2016. While I have my differences with Libertarians—I'm not a free marketeer and I support civil rights laws, so long as they don't violate due process and First Amendment freedoms—I like voting Libertarian, if only to give Republicans and Democrats electoral reasons to take civil liberty seriously. But I am not a purist; purity in politics leads to nihilism. When my vote counts, I'm a lesser-evil voter.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? If I lived in a swing state, I'd cast my vote for Hillary Clinton, despite our different values and policy preferences. This year's lesser-evil honor obviously goes to Clinton and not the autocratic, narcissistic sociopath.
Who did you vote for in 2012? I voted for Johnson in 2012, assuming, correctly, that Obama would win Massachusetts without my vote.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? What I'll miss most about the Obama years is Obama. He has disappointed me, notably in lackluster (or lack of) support for liberty, but I appreciate his intelligence, wit, and preternatural calm.
Contributing Editor Peter Bagge is author and illustrator of many books, most recently The Complete Neat Stuff (Fantagraphics).
Who are you voting for? Gary Johnson. You kidding? Easiest political decision I ever had to make.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? I'm equally alarmed by Trump and Clinton. They're both wretched, evil nightmares. I don't think I have to explain why.
Who did you vote for in 2012? Johnson. I didn't have to think about it much then either.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? Assuming Trump or Clinton get elected, I think everyone will miss everything about the Obama years! All relatively speaking, of course.
Mollie Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist.
Who are you voting for? I'm never too keen on presidential candidates but this year we have a particularly bad crop. I'm not sure how I'm voting in November. The only person I've definitively ruled out at this point is Hillary Clinton. This would be a great year to vote Libertarian, but Gary Johnson's hostility to and ignorance of religious liberty is making that difficult.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? Unlike most pundits and journalists, I'm most concerned about Hillary Clinton. In addition to her general impulses of using the administrative state to control individuals, her foreign policy instincts—as evidenced by her push to bomb Libya—are wrong, are designed to serve her own political interests instead of the good of the country, and suggest major financial corruption. Further, her construction of a private server that jeopardized national security simply for her convenience and to avoid oversight disqualifies her from the office of presidency.
Who did you vote for in 2012? I voted for Mitt Romney, despite all the horrible things I wrote about him that year. I actually feel much better about that now than I did in 2012.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? I will miss Obama's comity and executive restraint, the way he followed through with his promises to rein in government and manage wars better than George W. Bush did, his steadfast avoidance of killing American citizens without due process, and the way he worked so hard to keep the federal bureaucracy from persecuting people for their political and religious beliefs. What a guy!
Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.
Who are you voting for? Hillary Clinton. The major party candidates are the equivalent of a choice between diabetes and stage 4 cancer. I'd really hate to get diabetes, but I'd happily choose it over certain early death. Donald Trump is a pathologically dishonest con man; an unstable egomaniac; an enemy of Muslims, Mexicans, and most of the Bill of Rights; and an ignoramus who wonders why we can't use nuclear weapons. Gary Johnson, despite running for president twice, hasn't bothered to educate himself even minimally on matters of importance, notably the entire rest of the world. Clinton is wrong on many if not most policy issues, but she's sane, informed, and competent, which ought to be the bare minimum for the job.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? That's a rhetorical question, right?
Who did you vote for in 2012? Obama.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who said: "Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined."
Zach Weissmueller is a producer for Reason TV.
Who are you voting for? Gary Johnson is imperfect from a libertarian perspective, but I believe him when he says he'd be skeptical of foreign interventions, work to scale back the surveillance state, push marijuana decriminalization, and make a serious attempt at reining in the debt. I do hope he'd shut Bill Weld out of the room when it comes time to discuss Supreme Court appointments.
Which major-party candidate do you find most alarming? Hillary Clinton is a hawk and an apologist for the national security state. She doesn't even give the lip service that Obama did to governmental transparency and accountability. She truly seems to believe that the federal government can solve most, if not all, social problems. She's the antithesis of libertarianism.
Who did you vote for in 2012? Gary Johnson.
What will you miss most about the Obama years? It was useful, at times, to point out the gap between the Democratic Party's liberal rhetoric and Obama's illiberal action. That'll be over now that Clinton's dropped even the rhetoric.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Who Will Get Our Votes".