Well, the pundits and analysts and partisans and more than a few hacks have weighed in on the Biden vs. Palin debate. But what I’ve heard less about is what we didn’t hear issue-wise. Not only in the answers, but in the questions, too, asked by moderator Gwen Ifill, of whom I’m a fan. For instance, I don’t recall even one question that dealt with China…at all. Maybe because you can’t see it from Alaska? But I’d liked to have heard asked, What does China’s rise mean for the U.S.? For the world? For the Chinese? For the global economy, the global environment, global warming, and global food security? Well, that would have been one long question. Nonetheless, here’s a recent piece from the Economist on an aspect of China that rarely gets much attention, from debaters or non-debaters alike: the slow, but seemingly steady, growth of the animal rights movement. Here’s another from CNN on something that’s also usually below the radar: the burgeoning Chinese environmental movement and the leadership of young people in it.
I also didn’t hear Biden or Palin or Ifill asking or answering questions about equity, in a truly global sense, such as: how do the U.S.’ actions (and inactions) — collective and individual, policy and practice — affect the billions of people living in the global south? And (OK, it’s a two-parter) how should they in future? Read this piece from a recent Sierra magazine about how the rich world’s greenhouse gas emissions weigh on those in poor countries, and the ecological price of industrialized nations’ extraction of natural resources. Hint: it’s higher than the $700 billion price tag for the just-passed-by-the U.S. Congress bailout bill. That was discussed (it’s hard to say it was truly debated) on the stage in St. Louis.