The options we are given

With a little more than a year until the 2012 presidential election, the field of candidates is beginning to thin and Americans are able to get a better idea what types of options they will have when they head to the polls.Unfortunately, all of the current candidates have one thing in common at this point — they suck.In all fairness, the field of candidates looks much like it has every election year for the past several decades. Plenty of career politicians backed by big money, skirting the issues as much as humanly possible and placing more focus on the negative aspects of their opponents’ platforms than the positive aspects of their own.The Republicans have Michele Bachmann, a U.S. Representative from Minnesota; former U.S. Air Force captain and Texas governor Rick Perry; businessman Herman Cain; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who has been notably absent from main-stream politics for more than a decade; former governor of Utah and Ambassador to China John Hunstman; former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson; Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul; former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer; and former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, just to name a few of the declared candidates.The Democrats have kept their field fairly short — at least for the time-being — with current President Barack Obama leading the charge into the 2012 election nearly unopposed. His lone declared challenger thus far is Randall Terry, pro-life activist and founder of Operation Rescue from New York. In January, Terry announced his intention to challenge Obama in the Democratic Party primaries for the presidential election, with plans to run an ad featuring graphic photos of aborted fetuses during Super Bowl XLVI in February 2012.Something tells me his ad won’t make my list for favorite Suber Bowl ads.The field of Dems who have declined to run against Obama for the nomination dwarfs the list of actual candidates considerably, featuring such recognizable names as Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.As for the rest of the candidates — including political parties such as the Libertarians and independents — no one stands out among the pack, and, even if they did, they don’t have a chance in hell of winning a presidential election in this country, which is dominated by partisan politics.Of course, Perry is fully expected to carry the Lone Star State based on his governorship alone. That is, if he can make it through the coming months without making himself — and every other Texan, by proxy — look like uneducated morons still stuck on whether or not “that there Obama weren’t born in Hawaii” or why HeeHaw isn’t on prime-time television anymore.Bear in mind, Perry isn’t the only candidate on the GOP roster who risks portraying this nation as a bunch of “good ol’ boys,” slapping each other on the back while we quietly funnel wealth from the middle class into untraceable, offshore bank accounts. Bachman’s campaign teams have begun to abandon ship — many of them swimming to the closest ship, in the case, Perry’s campaign.Cain has garnered some recent headlines with his proposed 9-9-9 tax plan — which calls for a 9 percent income tax, 9 percent national sales tax and 9 percent corporate income tax — a plan he says could save taxpayers an estimated $430 billion a year.What Cain forgets to tell his constituents, however, is the plan would mean an automatic jump in tax bills for the country’s low income bracket. Meanwhile, wealthier Americans would get a tax because for the top end of the bracket, 9 percent is a lot better deal than they are currently paying. In fact, Urban Institute estimates those who make more than $1 million pay approximately 18 percent in personal income taxes.So, on the income tax side of things, the millionaires will get their taxes cut in half while low income — even those below the poverty line — would see their tax burden skyrocket. But that sounds fair, right?Even most Dems are having a tough time rallying behind their first-term president, who, four years ago promised to change the way our nation operated — and treated the majority of its citizens — but has only managed a tepid shift in the political temperature. “Yes we can” has quickly become “Nope, we didn’t.”All we can hope at this point, I suppose, is either one of the existing candidates distinguishes themselves with something other than more ego-inflated rhetoric or we see a new candidate come in and start knocking the wheels off a few wagons.If not, I suppose the American people will once again be faced with the question, “Which one of these bozos will do the least amount of damage in a four-year span?”In that case, we should probably elect the laziest candidate we can.Contact Staff Writer Thomas Jenkins at 263-7331 ext. 232 or by e-mail at