This is an email from DiscRep, a newsletter by Arc Digital.

The Discourse Report: January 11, 2021

Berny Belvedere
Jan 12 · 6 min read

Welcome to DiscRep, your guide to the public discourse. I’m Berny Belvedere, editor in chief of Arc Digital.


A brief comment on a notable idea, issue, or policy

So it looks like these fun exhibitions of democratic assembly will continue to take place.

The most terrifying aspect of this is that there is literally no reason for it.

The 2020 Election was boringly unobjectionable. This grievance storm is 100 percent manufactured out of thin air.

It would be one thing if there was a reasonable basis for the grievance — you could denounce the agita and the violence but still understand it.


This is mindless, heedless, feral chaos. Political fury without rhyme or reason. An undirected whirlwind.

One thing we will have to get serious about is the way we treat politicians who reflect this madness back onto the frenzied masses. Take the event above. If the build-up to it is anything like the prior events of its kind, politicians of varying status and importance will fan its flames — from the president of the United States, to U.S. senators, to backbench congresspeople, to local politicians.

I don’t actually think this new event will generate elite Republican support. But that’s only because January 6 was such a colossal screw up. That tells us something — it tells us that there are ways to get political leaders to hop off the hype train.

Obviously legal accountability provides a massive disincentive to fomenting insurrectionist fantasies. But we need other ways to pressure politicians to at the very least minimally tamp back movements hell bent on inflicting political violence.

This is a good read from Catie Edmondson and Luke Broadwater.

As the nation struggles against political movements that defiantly resist tethering themselves to reality, we cannot allow politicians to enable them without accountability.


My roundup of interesting recent tweets

Ezra Klein

Noam Blum

Corey Robin



My roundup of interesting recent reads

Trump ultimately — and begrudgingly — urged his supporters to “go home in peace.” But the six hours between when the Capitol was breached shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and when it was finally declared secure around 8 p.m. that evening reveal a president paralyzed — more passive viewer than resolute leader, repeatedly failing to perform even the basic duties of his job. … The man who vowed to be a president of law and order failed to enforce the law or restore order. The man who has always seen himself as the protector of uniformed police sat idly by as Capitol Police officers were outnumbered, outmaneuvered, trampled on — and in one case, killed. And the man who had long craved the power of the presidency abdicated many of the responsibilities of the commander in chief, even having to be prodded into belatedly calling up reinforcements from the National Guard.

Unavoidable images of a Trumpist mob disgracing the Capitol, combined with losing the Georgia runoffs following two months of Trump’s election lies, has split the American right. Donald Trump and far right extremism are interrelated problems the United States will be dealing with for a while. And yes, opposition to Biden will unite many Republicans. But some will cling to Trump and pro-Trump conspiracy theories, while others will oppose him and tell the truth about the election, and will do so more adamantly than they would have otherwise.

The Republican Party is entering a period of political powerlessness in Washington badly fractured from within, lacking a unifying message and set of principles and missing a clear bench of national leaders — a party with internal divisions and outside obstacles so significant that it may not easily weather the splintering underway. … While all parties go through reckonings after losing power, the G.O.P. has lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections and, for the first time since Herbert Hoover, ceded the White House, Senate and House in a single term. President Trump is staring down a second impeachment, members of his administration have resigned in protest of his actions, and senators from his party have called for him to do the same. … But the most acute danger for the health of the party, and its electoral prospects to retake the House and Senate in 2022, is the growing chasm between the pro-Trump voter base and the many Republican leaders and strategists who want to reorient for a post-Trump era.

Scapegoat the bastard. Saddle him with all the guilt he refuses to acknowledge — guilt for breathing lies about election fraud and for inciting an insurrection that got people killed, for fumbling the government’s response to the pandemic and getting even more people killed, for weaponizing child-separation and dehumanizing immigrants, for cozying up to murderous dictators, for not giving a shit about China’s genocide of its own people, for casually committing sexual assault for decades, for enriching his parasitic family on the public dole, for leading evangelicals into brazen idolatry, for corrupting every institution and individual in his orbit, for his coarseness and stupidity, for being a low-class ape in a baggy suit shitting on the Resolute Desk, for making himself an albatross around the neck of much-needed populist reform, for showing America’s enemies just how miserably weak she is.

Thanks for reading,

Berny Belvedere

Editor in Chief, Arc Digital

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