Photo by mgstanton on Flickr.

Listen to the national candidates talk, and you’d think American cities don’t exist; there is no form of transportation other than driving. A number of bloggers have pointed out how last night’s debate, like its predecessor, conspicuously didn’t talk about cities.

At Next American City, Matt Bevilacqua writes:

Neither candidate uttered the word “city.” At all. Go ahead, check this debate transcript from ABC News.  ...

Urban advocates have raised this complaint many times before: During national campaigns, when pundits and politicos are bickering over everything from reproductive health to drilling for oil to the debt ceiling, issues specifically related to cities get the short shrift.

Republicans hardly ever talk about urban America anymore. ... Though this year’s Democratic National Convention had a roster full of big-city mayors, their time in the spotlight largely yielded only sentimental personal narratives — not much about what they do to make cities function daily, and not much about the needs of the people they serve.

It’s not like there weren’t moments last night when either candidate could have, at least in passing, addressed the concerns of the country’s urban-dwellers. ... [D]uring the discussion on economic growth, Obama could have turned to the Partnership for Sustainable Communities to defend his record. Established during his first term, the partnership has done wonders for economic development in urban neighborhoods.

Streetsblog’s Ben Fried wishes cities or transportation policy came up in the answer to a question about energy:

QUESTION: Your energy secretary, Steven Chu, has now been on record three times stating it’s not policy of his department to help lower gas prices. Do you agree with Secretary Chu that this is not the job of the Energy Department?

Fried says, “Let’s imagine the contours of the straightforward, leveling-with-America response that never came:”

OBAMA: Yes, I do agree with Secretary Chu that it is not the job of the Energy Department to lower gas prices, any more than it’s the job of the Commerce Department to lower the price of tin or cotton.

  But there’s a lot we can do to become more resilient in the face of oil price shocks. We can give people real transportation choices — invest more in transit, and in making our streets safer — so you aren’t forced to burn a gallon of gas every time you need to pick up some groceries.

  My administration has started us down a smarter path with the Sustainable Communities Initiative and the Department of Transportation’s TIGER program. These programs are laying the groundwork for a 21st Century transportation system that makes our communities more productive and efficient while reducing our addiction to oil. If we make these investments, not only will we free ourselves from constantly worrying about prices at the pump, we’ll also stave off the disaster of climate change and prevent the kind of droughts and other extreme weather events that are battering America.

Instead, the President talked about (and then starting arguing with Romney about) how much they’ve increased oil production. Which is not just about furthering our addiction to a dwindling resource, but also economically silly for anyone who realizes that oil is a world market.

Matt Yglesias posted a great chart showing that gas prices in the US, Canada, and Japan move in almost precise lockstep; the only difference is the size of the country’s gas tax. Ours, of course, is extremely low compared to other industrialized nations.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.