A Heart of Darkness: The Consequences of the President’s Words



Simon Erskine Locke, Founder & CEO of CommunicationsMatch™

No communicator needs to be reminded of the power of words. 

But if we did, yesterday’s shameful events in Washington should haunt all Americans for years to come. 

The consequences of a sitting President inciting the mob both in Congress and outside to overturn the results of a democratic election came home to roost.  

January 6, 2021 is another day that will live in infamy. 

That a mob would be able to desecrate the heart of U.S. democracy is beyond imagination. But so much that could not be imagined, has come to pass over the last four years.

The words of a President who has chosen again and again to incite, divide, bully and abuse, and those of his enablers and excusers, have taken us to a very dark place. 

Yesterday’s violence, chaos and anarchy are the result not of one speech, but of a years’ long effort to replace truth with falsehoods, to undermine the media and delegitimize the electoral process.  

The values that are at the heart of our democracy have been subverted. The freedom of speech, the right to bear arms and to be fairly judged by our peers, have morphed into the creation of alternate realities, to carrying weapons to intimidate, and to a politicized judicial system that works for some and not for others. Both Republicans and Democrats should be deeply concerned by this.  

Three years ago, I wrote an article for CommPRO, The President Who Wants to be King. Earlier this week, I wrote we needed to Find Reasons to Be Cheerful in which I noted that more people voted for democracy than demagoguery as a reason for optimism. 

What we saw yesterday, and what we may see in the days to come, underscore both the long-standing behavior of this President, my continued view that we will get through this moment, and that there will be brighter days ahead.    

In the meantime, the final words from Kurtz in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness are apt:  The horror. The horror.    

About the Author: Simon Erskine Locke is Founder & CEO of CommunicationsMatch™. He has started several startups and is a former head of communications functions at Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Prudential financial. CommunicationsMatch™’s search tools and services help clients find, shortlist and engage agencies, consultants and services providers with the industry and communications expertise that match needs. Developed by communicators for communicators, agency and professional profiles provide an opportunity to showcase capabilities with clients when they are looking to hire communications partners. CommunicationsMatch™’s Agency Select™ RFQ/RFP tools offer a path to streamlining the hiring process. Find out more at www.communicationsmatch.com.