It's election day.

Big freakin' deal.

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This may have been one of the most useless contests in recent memory. Particularly the gubernatorial race. For months we've been subjected to Martin O'Malley and Robert Ehrlich as they've taken turns doing their best impersonation of vanilla gone sour. And that's sad. Because there was a time when I pulled a lever in the voting booth for each of them.

But now, they've managed to make going to the voting booth like deciding which pocket of a homeless man's pants we want to stick our hands into. Either way, we're going to get something we don't want, something we didn't expect, or something that will make us throw up in our mouths.

Both candidates are apparitions of their former selves. Lukewarm bathwater politicians who generate about as much electricity as a potato clock.

What happened to the Martin O'Malley who, as mayor, challenged a talk show host to a fight in the WBAL parking lot? Or the O'Malley who railed in front of news cameras for Patricia Jessamy to get off her arse and prosecute the people holding our city hostage? All I see now is a smug, polished cardboard cutout who gives interviews the way morticians address mourners.

And Bob Ehrlich. What happened to the Arbutus boy who became the first Republican governor in Maryland in decades? The guy who fought the good fight against the runaway Democratic machine in Annapolis? Since early fall, he's looked as as if he's been campaigning at gunpoint.

And the ads themselves. We've all seen them. I see them when I close my eyes - like the aura of a camera flash. The rhetoric they've used has been embarrassing. Melodramatic. Dark. Sanctimonious. Uninspiring. Every time I see a spot put out by either camp, I can't help but think of ad guy Hugh Macleod's great cartoon:

The debates haven't been much better. The nitpicking and hair splitting. The eye rolling and head shaking. There were moments when it felt like two parents fighting in front of the kids - and they've both been drinking.

You know, I remember when we'd have to vote for our student government in school. Posters strewn all over the halls. Mundane platforms for better lunches and cooler DJs at dances. I remember we'd regularly write-in candidates. Bill Cosby for treasurer. Voltron for vice president. I even ended up getting suspended at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute for penning my own declaration of voter's rights on the ballot. Looking back, it probably would have been OK had I not referred to the school election as a "[fudging] farce and a [gosh darn] waste of my time".

Things really haven't changed.

When M.M. McDermott's not whining about local politics, he's probably here.

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