You may have heard of whataboutism—the practice of rejecting criticisms of a regime on the grounds that other regimes do bad things too. Well, whataboutism has a cousin. Call it wherewereyouism: the impatient disdain that civil libertarians start to feel right after an election, when many members of the newly disempowered party suddenly rediscover the virtues of limiting government power.
It’s an understandable feeling, and I’ve sometimes been prone to it myself. (Back in 2009, when the Tea Party protests started taking off, my initial response was: “Why weren’t you marching when Bush was pushing through TARP?”) To an extent, it’s not just understandable but valuable. As center-left types watch Donald Trump take control of a presidency whose powers grew greater while Obama was in office, making the executive branch an even vaster and less accountable maze of surveillance and secrecy and unilateral punitive action, it’s a fine time for libertarians (and for those progressives who kept their wits in the Obama years) to try to seize the teachable moment: “You see? YOU SEE? Now will you listen when we warn you what could happen?”
Read the rest by Jesse Walker at Reason.