Editor’s Note: Every now and then I like to work around some aspect of my English major background. For those of you out there who were also English majors, I’m aware that I’ve taken a somewhat complex subject and oversimplified it. However, I don’t think the average reader wants to hear some boring grammatical dissertation on when you should remove the “to” from the infinitive to get the subjunctive. Enough said on that arcane subject. This one did get a response from a very right-wing Trump cultist, who is pretty outraged that anyone would criticize his Messiah in print. Click here for a reaction from Trump’s loyal base.
of the more obscure aspects of syntax is the subjunctive voice, a grammatical
construction involving beliefs, hopes and wishes, as well as suppositions
contrary to fact. Notable examples include the Cowardly Lion’s “If I were
king of the forest” and Fiddler on the Roof’s “If I were a rich man.” In
such phrases, the normal subject-verb agreement (“I was”) is replaced with
the ostensibly mismatched “I were.”
subjunctive reflects the human condition. Proselytizers hoping to make converts
seem to think people can just choose what they believe, as if it were an act of
will. If I were promised eternal bliss (or $100) for merely saying I believed L.
Ron Hubbard to be a prophet, I could do so easily, but if I had to honestly
believe it, I might just as well try to pretend the Earth is flat and bourbon is
like to believe I look like George Clooney. That I can’t results less from
choice than from the mirrors on my walls. I’d love to think I’m as smart as
the late Stephen Hawking, but no one who’s met me would agree. And I’d like
to believe age has imparted enough wisdom that, if I could go back and live my
life over again, I’d be able to change some of the stupid and embarrassing things I’ve said
or done. But I stopped getting wiser at around 25, so, even with a
“do-over,” I’d probably just do or say different stupid things.
Speaking of overheated climates, I’d like to believe global warming is a hoax. However, that would mean ignoring the vast majority of the scientific community and siding with right-wing politicians, fundamentalists and mercenaries from the oil company payrolls. This would be about as reasonable as accepting that Southern Baptist preachers know more about evolutionary biology than the paleontology department at MIT.
many D.C. Republicans have simply abandoned their principles. Spineless toadies
like Lindsey Graham (R.-Moscow) fear being primaried and losing their seats (and
the money and power that go with them). Worse still, too many in the GOP — e.g.,
ubertoady Devin Nunez (R.-Mar a Lago) and bigot Steve King (R.-Berchtesgaden)
— share Trump’s values or lack of them.
nothing changes, we won’t need the subjunctive voice to describe the “what
if” of eight years of corrupt anti-democratic and white supremacist
no matter what we believe, hope or wish, help doesn’t seem to be on the way.
Aliens aren’t coming from the heavens to rescue us, and, although the Trump
presidency may not be proof, it’s certainly evidence, that, even if there were a
god, he’s no longer on our side.
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