Ezra Klein on 2012's importance "For the future of America's two political parties, this is the most important election in a generation," writes The Washington Post's Ezra Klein. Many compared 2008 to the 1932 election that decided who would respond to the Great Depression. People wondered whether Obama was the next FDR or the next Hoover. "In reality, Obama didn't enter office at the right time to be FDR or Hoover," Klein says. FDR inherited the Depression three years in, so it had already lasted long enough that "a boom was in the offing." Obama took office much earlier in the crisis. It's worst period turned out to be the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009, Klein argues, and though Obama wasn't yet in office for most of it, the unemployment numbers showed up when he was. While many attribute FDR's success to his policies, Klein says it was probably just "an accident of history." Internationally, "[w]hichever party was in power when the Great Depression hit was booted out of office, and whichever party was in power when the global recovery took hold reaped huge political benefits." If Rick Perry were to win office and repeal health care at the same time that the economy improved, people would see it as an evaluation of his policies for a long time to come. "Does that make 2012 the most important election in a generation? For the country, it's hard to say. For the two political parties, yes. Yes, it does."
Jeffrey Rosen rules on electronic surveillance and the courts In November, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear United States v. Jones, a case that examines whether D.C. police had the right to place a GPS tracker on a suspected drug dealer's car, follow his movements for a month, and then arrest him for conspiracy to sell cocaine. "The question before the court is whether this violated the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution," writes GWU law professor Jeffrey Rosen in The New York Times. "It's imperative that the court says yes. Otherwise, Americans will no longer be able to expect the same degree of anonymity in public places that they have rightfully enjoyed since the founding era." Courts that have upheld similar cases argue that people have no expectation of privacy in public places. An August 2010 U.S. Court of Appeals decision decided, however, that no one "expects that his public movements will be tracked 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and therefore we do have an expectation of privacy in the 'whole' of our public movements." Technology alone has made this surveillance of "the whole of our movements" possible and so the judge found that it is different in nature from normal surveillance. In a climate when Facebook has just debuted a feature that matches photos to identities, this case has greater implications than just GPS tracking. Live feeds from public and private surveillance cameras could soon be posted to the internet, allowing anyone to track a person's movement from anywhere in the world. Luckily, not just the courts, but also state and federal legislatures have introduced legislation to regulate electronic surveillance. This is encouraging, Rosen writes, but we still need the court to uphold our rights to privacy.