Darryl Morris Weekly – 08.01.21 – The United States of WTF?

Happy New Year. We have reached the part of January where I am now obliged to awkwardly add: if it’s not too late? Can I still say that? Are we still wishing happy new year?

I hope you managed a nice enough break and you’re ready to take on 2021. Just the small issue of a global pandemic and an attack on the fabric of western democracy to overcome first.

Just when we thought it was safe to turn off CNN, the world was glued to rolling US news again as pro-Trump protests descended into domestic terrorism and a storm on the Capitol Building. Still, it was nice to see the CNN hosts again.

More startling than the events themselves is how predictable the whole thing was. It has been foretold and forewarned, not just by the media or the commentators or Trump’s political opponents, but the antagonist himself. At every turn, he has stoked resentment and prejudice and egged on a movement steeped in conspiracy.

It is a bitter vindication for those who have been pointing at the arch of history and warning that it was heading in this direction. It has be said again and again, that to allow those first few levers of fascism to be pulled – undermine the press, discredit anybody tasked with holding you to account, destabilise the institutions that carry out the checks and balances – and not expect that to end with an angry mob attempting to overthrow democracy is madness. Or blindness. Or both.

I keep returning to something a friend said, as Biden supporters gleefully welcomed his victory in November last year: “Trump was a symptom, not a cause. Years of working class folks legitimate concerns being ignored (or worse, they’re written off as thick). It’s true in the UK too. A ‘new dawn’ comes when they listen.”

There is a stark truth here, of course. But then you watch the images of Wednesday evening – clearly not representative of those legitimate working class concerns, but no less entangled with them – and wonder how, and why, you would even attempt to understand it?

Finding a solution to this problem, and bringing the country together, sits on top of Joe Biden’s in-tray as he enters the Oval Office this month – as well as tackling the biggest public health crisis of a generation. No big deal, then. But with the most powerful forces of social media, partisan news and disobedient politicians on cruise control in their efforts to polarise, it looks like an unscalable mountain.

But it isn’t just Joe Biden’s problem. In fact, as he takes the White House and the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Biden has a path to change that will make life much easier than he could have imagined. The real dilemma lies with the Republicans – the GOP.

Traditional Republicans have long felt that the party has been hijacked by Trump and his allies – with many unable to speak out in fear of retribution from an unpredictable, but powerful, President. It’s hard to see how Trumpism’s grip on the Grand Old Party – the party of freedom, civility and law and order – hasn’t slipped since his merry men tried to literally overthrow democracy. It’s also hard to see how he runs again in 2024, as some had predicted.

The fight for the soul of the Republican party begins in earnest – with traditional republicans keen to capitalise on this moment to wrestle back control of their party. On talkRADIO this weekend, we’ll speak to some top Republicans as they consider what their future holds.

Earlier in the week, Boris Johnson provided another moment of history for us to watch along like a terrible box set, as he announced a third national lockdown. As the Prime Minister reeled off various catches and clauses to the ‘stay at home’ order, one particular exception stood out: victims of domestic abuse. It’s long been established in the rules that victims of domestic abuse can leave their home and seek refuge elsewhere, but this was the first time it had received a name-check in the announcements.

Domestic abuse is one of societies worst scourges – and ‘stay at home’ orders have pulled the issue into sharp focus. It can also be subtle and hard to spot, even for those trapped in its web. This week, the Domestic Abuse Bill made its way through the House of Lords with amendments on cohesive control and strangulation. The fact that somebody can be trapped in a cycle of abuse, without fully recognising it themselves and with no route of escape, is a startling thought. Yet, of course, it is a reality of life for so many.

This weekend, we’ll try to deconstruct what it means to face domestic abuse. If we can’t recognise it, we can’t fix it. And we’ll ask Dr Baroness Newlove – who spoke on the issue in the House of Lords this week – what the law is doing.

And this weekend marks five years since the starman returned to the sky. It’s been a hell of ride since David Bowie died in 2016 – with Brexit, Trump and a global pandemic – so we’ll ask a Bowie expert what he’d make of the word now.

See you in the morning!

Weekend Early Breakfast with Darryl Morris – Sat/Sun 5am-7am – on talkRADIO

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