How Will Reason Staffers Vote in 2020?
Since 2004, Reason has surveyed its staffers on how they plan to vote in national elections. We do this in a spirit of transparency. There is a pernicious idea that if journalists don’t disclose their biases and preferences, then perhaps they don’t have any. But we think it’s better if the people who read, watch, and listen to Reason know where our contributors are coming from, even by the imperfect metric of electoral preferences.
Traditionally, this survey yields a high percentage of nonvoters and Libertarian Party voters, and 2020 is no exception on either score. Our Democratic and Republican voters typically describe themselves as reluctant backers, seeing their candidate as a lesser of two evils; Joe Biden’s showing this year is similar to Barack Obama’s among staffers in 2008.
As each Election Day draws near, Reason receives a bumper crop of emails, tweets, and comments. This year, each day’s harvest includes notes accusing us of being in the tank for Trump and just as many accusing us of stumping for Biden.
Reason is not on anybody’s side in this election or any other. This is, in part, because we are published by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and therefore don’t endorse particular candidates. But it’s also because we don’t think one party or person ever fully embodies the things that are important to us, including individual liberty, free markets, and the rule of law. (As our election-issue cover stories make clear, both of the major candidates fail on that front in important ways.) We continue to look outside of politics for meaning and hope.
Nothing in what follows should be construed as an official endorsement of any candidate or cause. These are the personal views of individual participants and not the institutional views of Reason or Reason Foundation. Legalese aside, we hope what follows is interesting and informative. —Katherine Mangu-Ward
Who do you plan to vote for this year? Jo Jorgensen. Some of my libertarian friends plan to vote for Biden because they view Trump to be a unique existential threat to liberty. I think that underappreciates the audacious scope of the Biden agenda, which would bring a daily onslaught of new initiatives and regulations from every corner of the federal bureaucracy aimed at controlling the personal and economic choices we make on virtually everything. These ideas aren’t just rhetoric from a blowhard. Depending on what happens in the Senate, they’re likely to become law, undermining economic growth and moving us backward on First and Second Amendment protections, school choice, property rights, consumer freedom, campus due process, worker freedom, energy choices, and so much more. Expect endless new opportunities for adversarial encounters between citizens and law enforcers on every level. Jo Jorgensen is the only candidate who champions liberty and reflects my views.
If you could change any vote you cast in the past, what would it be? Jimmy Carter in 1980, my first vote. That was the most important election of our lifetime, of course. My lefty friends and I viewed Reagan to be a unique existential threat to America. I should have voted for Ed Clark.
Who do you plan to vote for this year? Jo Jorgensen. I have no problem with her at all. I hope she wins!
If you could change any vote you cast in the past, what would it be? John Kerry. I’ll never vote for a major party candidate ever again.
Who do you plan to vote for this year? I am currently not registered to vote in Virginia, where I live. If I change that before the election, I will vote for Jo Jorgensen—unless I believe there is a chance that Joe Biden will somehow fail to win Virginia, in which case I will vote strategically and reluctantly for Biden.
If you could change any vote you cast in the past, what would it be? I can’t imagine thinking a single vote is valuable enough to spend time regretting.
Who do you plan to vote for this year? No one. Both Trump and Biden are awful enough that I can’t imagine voting for either. While I wish Jo Jorgensen well, the cost of figuring out which state I’m still registered in and how exactly I’m supposed to cast my ballot during COVID exceeds any benefit I’d get from supporting her doomed presidential bid.
If you could change any vote you cast in the past, what would it be? My first vote was in local Boise elections in 2011, where I recall ticking the box for a bunch of city council candidates I knew nothing about. It was an irresponsible thing to do, and I was rewarded when the council shortly thereafter passed a sweeping smoking ban. If I could do it over, I would have stayed home that election as well.
ELIZABETH NOLAN BROWN
Who do you plan to vote for this year? I just registered to vote in my home state, Ohio, where I’m living for the next few months. I plan to cast a ballot for Jo Jorgensen and Spike Cohen this November. As libertarians seem to have less and less in common with either Democrats or Republicans, I’ve started to shed earlier apathy about Libertarian Party politics and become more convinced that we do need a viable electoral vehicle of our own.
If you could change any vote you cast in the past, what would it be? This will be my first time voting in a presidential election since 2008, when I voted for Barack Obama. I think that vote was a desperate plea for an end to the Bush era more than anything else. Obama’s presidency did that in some important ways, and failed to in many more. I don’t regret that vote, but the Obama era did become a good lesson in what “hope and change” looks like in practice.
Criminal Justice Reporter
Who do you plan to vote for this year? Joe Biden. The nationalists said the libertarian-conservative consensus is dead, and I take them at their word. Also, Stephen Miller is a white nationalist.
If you could change any vote you cast in the past, what would it be? I haven’t voted in a presidential election since 2004. I guess I would take that one back and not vote, because I was young and dumb instead of old and dumb.
Who do you plan to vote for this year? I will cast my ballot for Joe Biden in Michigan, a swing state, because there is no bigger libertarian cause right now than to prevent Donald J. Trump from getting re-elected. He is a proto-authoritarian who digs dictators such as the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte and who glorifies state violence.
Trump launched his first election campaign by stoking racial hatreds, and any hope that the responsibility of governance would temper him was dashed as he dehumanized immigrants and demonized opponents. His zero-tolerance border policies have resulted in unspeakable human rights abuses, his economic nationalism is no better for the cause of free markets than Biden’s supposed socialism, and his fiscal irresponsibility has been worse than his predecessors’. But his most dangerous trait by far is his open contempt for the institutions that check executive power and hold it accountable
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