The most memorably depressing day of my adult life was Nov. 3, 2004. If you were on campus that day, no matter who you voted for in the presidential election the day before, you probably remember it. Those bleary-eyed get-out-the-vote types had finally vacated the streets, though their “November 2” stickers polluted every street corner, (and still do in some places). There was a sense of gloom on campus, but for me, an even more acute one of total dejection.

I was miserable. I had an appointment with a professor that day and went to her office, but she quickly gave up on any pretense of caring about why I was there. “This sucks,” she said. “It wasn’t even close.”

President Bush had become a caricature of the Republican Party by that point, but his administration had plenty more damage to do. It was also the same day the “other” Proposal 2 passed, which still has same-sex workers in Michigan who seek health care benefits for their partners in limbo. It was, more than anything, the first time this state and country decimated my modest new-voter idealism.

Many of us have long held a belief that there is no way this will be repeated on Nov. 5, 2008, the day after this pervasive election cycle will come to an end. Chin up firmly in the air, we believed that whatever the outcome, we will finally triumph over our bag-of-tricks electoral process and agree that we had a good election and were ready to move on from it.

This has turned into a fantasy. As the Democratic Party scrambles to solve this week’s crisis, the Florida and Michigan question, I can no longer react to this primary with anything other than amused disregard.

How else should I respond? I find it difficult to accept the argument that I have a civic responsibility to remain invested. The candidates are hardly even doing that anymore. It’s not that I’m indifferent – as a 21-year-old supporter of Hillary Clinton, I have endured months as more of a punching-bag than others my age who support John McCain. The candidates have abandoned any attempt to host an actual debate and have instead unleashed a theatrical showdown for delegates.

This election is fun, don’t get me wrong. I remain completely immersed in the coverage. I’m just no longer in a position where I can seriously argue about each week’s new flashpoint. I’m not going to pretend that getting riled up about the way the primaries were held in Michigan or Florida actually has a point. Of course Clinton thinks we should just seat the delegates; she won the states. Of course Obama is warming up to holding new caucuses to replace the old primary; he wins most caucuses. No matter what happens, the results will be tainted for one of them and a triumph for the other. It’s a raw guess who will benefit in the end.

The two Democratic contenders and their supporters will each place the blame on the other for the current state of the primary, but both candidates continue to win states and they both belong in the race. The problem is that neither candidate seems to retain a grasp on why each earned so many supporters in the first place.

Neither do I. I will probably vote for one of them in November, but I am no longer convinced either Democratic candidate is interested in offering a truly compelling reason for voters to favor one over the other. They could counter this by not releasing statements aimed at placating donors who promise stepped-up attacks every time an opponent wins a state. They could counter this by ending the back-and-forth ads that play off each other with winks and puns, however heartily they nourish my RSS feeds. They could remind voters why they’re running for president.

This primary routine has become so exceedingly pointless that I have no idea why every voter in this country doesn’t feel duped. We had an uncommon pool of candidates and an even rarer opportunity to find the right one. We were all excited. And now, with an unimaginable zeal, we’re allowing the candidates who remain to blow it.

Now I’m just glad that on Nov. 5, 2008, I will be nowhere near this campus.

Jeffrey Bloomer was the Daily’s fall/winter managing editor in 2007. He can be reached at bloomerj@umich.edu.

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