10:44:25 pm on
Wednesday 11 Dec 2019

No Conscious, No Legacy
AJ Robinson


A montage of public homages to the legacy of the forty-fifth president
of the United States of America c. 2050

Andrew Carnegie was among first major industrialists in America. He helped usher in the American Industrial Revolution, making steel production what it was as recently as the 1950s. He was a ruthless businessperson, a true Robber Baron in every vile sense of the word.

► Carnegie exploited workers.

Employees, of Carnegie, men, women and children, worked under backbreaking conditions for long hours and little money; there was no Workmen’s Comp, no healthcare, no benefits, no time off or holidays and vacations. Moreover, he crushed any attempts at unionisation.

In an era when most of the staples of life cost pennies and many of his workers lived in abject poverty Carnegie made millions upon millions of dollars. Seems we’ve come full circle on that era, haven’t we? I digress.

Later in life, Carnegie grew concerned with his legacy; how would the world, America, remember him. I don’t know how religious he was, but that might have played a part in his transformation. For some, when they’re closer to the end than the beginning, are staring the Old Master in the eye and believe they must account for their actions that can be a powerful motivator to change their ways.

For whatever the reasons, Carnegie arranged a deal, a total buyout of his holdings for roughly three hundred million dollars. The result was the creation of US Steel, then one of the largest corporations in the world. Afterwards and for the remainder of his life, he went he gave away his money.

He built Carnegie Hall, in New York City. He endowed various charities and philanthropic societies. He built libraries in communities across the United States and elsewhere.

I leave it to you to judge if his late-life benevolence tipped the scales of his life into the plus side. The point is that he did great good and tried to make amends for his past actions; he sought redemption. He was worried about his legacy and tried to quell his anxiety through generosity.  

What concerns me, today, is that we have men in power who are unconcerned with their legacy; they are too selfish and power hungry to care for a future they won’t life to see. There is nothing more dangerous than are such men. Trump and his minions, enablers, such as Mitch McConnell and Rudy Giuliana, are openly contemptuous of the future.

► Oblivious to their legacy.

Several of these men, when asked what they think their legacy will be, how future generation will regard them, have said, “Who cares, we’ll be dead.” This is not the comment you want from leaders; concern for today and tomorrow is essential to effective leadership. When they don’t care what people think, when the judgment of history means nothing to them, they have total freedom to screw us over; there is no social control of them, which leads, quickly, to the demise of legal controls.

This means we now have in power men that care about one thing: having wealth and power here and now and nothing else. Such leaders are beyond hazardous. They will do what makes them feel good, today, not caring if their grandchildren or great-grandchildren will suffer for their selfish acts.

Think of it. Do they care about the environment, Climate Change, education, infrastructure, public health, social justice or any of a myriad of important issues? No, they care about their own comfort and position.

Trump has children and grandchildren. Can you think of any actions he’s taken, be it law, policy or Executive Order, that will help his youngest song, Barron, and the members of his generation? I sure can’t and that’s scary; if he cares not for his descendants, how can he care for us.

Next year, the USA has an election. Everyone hopes for a solid Democrat presidential candidate to emerge, someone that can take Trump down. There are also rumours of voting McConnell out; the so-called “Ditch Mitch” campaign.

Although the polls already show Trump losing to the Democrat frontrunners, I’m not optimistic. Didn’t those same polls show Hillary winning? When you take into account gerrymandering, voter suppression, Russian hacking, voter apathy and simply the fact that the Democrats have a habit of self-destructing, I can foresee a worst-case scenario: Trump wins, albeit by a narrow margin, Mitch stays and the Republicans regain control of the House.

If re-elected, Trump gets to appoint one or maybe two justices to the Supreme Court. Thereafter, America faces decades of damage that will take seventy, eighty or one hundred years to repair. Yes, this is what four years, let alone four more years, of Trump means for America.

► It couldn't happen here, but did.

Think, again, if you think it can’t happen in America. Eight–four years ago, Sinclair Lewis, in It Can’t Happen Here, a novel, perhaps worse than 1984, explained exactly how and why Trump managed an election victory as well as the aftermath. I’m not too much of a pessimist.

Did you ever imagine we’d get to this point? I sure didn’t, but men, with nothing to lose, will do anything to get what they want, today, often without reason. Trump is one of these men; he wants only that which pleases him at this moment. That’s dangerous.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

More by AJ Robinson:
Tell a Friend

Click above to tell a friend about this article.