Despite having roughly six hours set aside for the three presidential and one vice presidential debates, some of the most important issues facing this country were almost completely ignored. Here are just four of the most glaring absences.

Climate change – There is near unanimous agreement among the scientific community that global warming is taking place and that it could lead to significant long-term danger that could hurt millions around the world. According to Pew, 67 percent of Americans believe there is solid evidence that global warming is happening. Despite it potentially being one of the biggest long term challenges for the country the issue was completely ignored during the debates. The words “climate change” and “global warming” were not even mentioned once in all four debates. This is the first time in decades the issue wasn’t mentioned in a presidential debate.

Drug policy – There are roughly 1.6 million people arrested for drug related charges every year. The drug war has resulted in the United States having the world’s largest prison population. It has helped feed a wave of violence in Mexico that killed roughly 50,000 people in recent years.

At the same time, Americans’ attitudes about our drug policies have undergone a dramatic shift. A majority of Americans now support legalizing marijuana and initiatives to legalize marijuana are on the ballot in Colorado, Oregon and Washington State. Chances are good one or more of them will win approval this November. Even though marijuana legalization is currently a hotly contested issue on the ballot Colorado, where the first debate took place, the closest the debate got to addressing drug policy was a passing reference to the Fast and Furious gun program. While the candidates talked some about education there was no acknowledgement that the exploding cost of our prison population is playing a big role in reducing local funds for programs like education.

Housing – The housing crisis was arguably one of the major sources of our current economic downturn and the millions of people still underwater on their mortgages continue to be a large drag on the recovery. The rampant criminal activities by banks and other entities which helped to feed the bubble still have not been fully addressed. The Obama administration’s lackluster and even counterproductive programs to deal with the housing situation are potentially one of the greatest failings of the administration. Even though it should rank among the most important issues this election there was extremely little talk about how to address it during the debates. The close either candidate came to putting forward a plan to improve the situation was Mitt Romney merely imply he would do something about defining what “qualified mortgages” means under Dodd-Frank.

Euro – The current state of the Euro and the European economy is likely the foreign policy concern which will most directly impact actual Americans. The European Union is the world’s largest economy and its continued economic troubles remains a serious drag on the entire word economy. Amazingly the word “Euro” was never even spoken once in the debates and there basically no acknowledgement of the situation, beyond using the example of Greece to justify a push for deficit reduction.



Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at