Four years ago, we wanted to be older. We longed for the magic of filling a bubble or pulling a lever — of showing our support for a young Illinois senator with big words and big dreams for our country. We were young, then — many of us too young to vote. But we were old enough to be inspired.

Today, we are no longer inspired. The novelty of tricolored campaign posters and star-studded music videos has faded into a newfound awareness of what party politics really means. To our dismay, symbols and songs alone could not overcome an economy in crisis, two wars and a bitterly divided political arena. Politics had to become serious again.

In the past four years, we have seen partisan squabbles and speeches, and we have wondered where the politics of 2008 went. Our genuine excitement has been replaced by suffocating apathy. No one will sing on Old Campus this year — or if we do, our voices will be awkward and strained.

We once chose Obama because he was inspiring. We wanted to vote because a man — more than the issues behind him — made us care. We cannot rely on that kind of motivation any longer.

Indeed, the 2008 election was an outlier. Few elections ever pulsate with that kind of history-making energy. More often than not, politics is dirty and cruel — and, most disappointingly, boring. Trendy logos and catchy songs cannot last forever. In their place, we have been given the Ryan budget and an extensive health care bill — policy plans that few students, let alone elected officials, understand in their entirety.

Politics is not always romantic, but it is always important. Every election makes the history books, and our lack of entertainment or inspiration is an unfit excuse to stand on the sidelines.

We are a collection of once avid, now apathetic supporters of Barack Obama, but we remain dedicated to the policies he still represents. Ideas inspire us, and unlike the politicians who preach them, ideas do not easily fall victim to our cynicism.

As Election Day approaches, we have one week left to prove that presidential elections are about more than one man.

Here and now, we can reject becoming a generation of bumper stickers and slogans, and instead demand ideas. We can be part of a self-reliant generation, not waiting for charisma, but ready to carry on the cause.

In that spirit, the News endorses President Barack Obama for a second term.

Vote to support social justice. We want our gay friends to be able to marry, and we recognize that women have the right to choose, as well as the right to receive equal pay for equal work. President Obama was the first president to vocalize his support for marriage equality. He appointed judges to the Supreme Court who would uphold the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade. The first bill he signed in office was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which made it easier for women to file charges against discriminatory employers.

Vote to revive the economy. Measures such as the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the automotive industry bailout have ensured tepid economic growth through stimulus and job creation. Though the amount of progress made has not been ideal, we believe Mitt Romney advocates the kind of deregulation and trickle-down economics that created the recession in the first place.

Vote to support education. A portion of Obama’s stimulus package was used to support Pell Grants and student loan forgiveness, and Obama’s Race to the Top plan, although imperfect, has largely helped to improve test scores. Romney, meanwhile, comes from a party whose leaders have disparaged higher education as elitist, and Romney’s own budget proposals put education spending on the chopping block.

Vote for President Obama because he stands for what many of us believe, even when most of us are too tired, too bored or too indifferent to admit we believe it.