Sabl’s Law of U.S. Political Rhetoric

“No argument can succeed in American politics if it contains a subjunctive.” Consider the wiretap debate.

“No argument can succeed in American politics if it contains a subjunctive.”

This is not a probabilistic but an infallibly true proposition. It’s the greatest advance in social science since Gresham’s Law, and probably an easy corollary thereof.

You heard it here first: please spell my name right.

P.S.: I thought of this when reflecting on the wiretap debate. The Administration never says the people it’s spying on might be terrorists, or that it would be a good idea to tap their phones if they were terrorists. They ARE terrorists, the whole policy is a program for keeping track of terrorists, and anyone who opposes it is easy on terrorists. Conversely, imagine Democrats trying to say that the power “might” be abused: “You’re accusing the President of dirty tricks! Where’s the proof, you paranoid Deaniac?”

UPDATE: reader Ed Whitney of Denver writes:

Shouldn’t that be “No argument can succeed in American politics if it contain a subjunctive”?

An we go down that road, well, …

Author: Andrew Sabl

Andrew Sabl, a political theorist, is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Ruling Passions: Political Offices and Democratic Ethics and Hume’s Politics: Coordination and Crisis in the History of England, both from Princeton University Press. His research interests include political ethics, liberal and democratic theory, toleration, the work of David Hume, and the realist school of contemporary political thought. He is currently finishing a book for Harvard University Press titled The Uses of Hypocrisy: An Essay on Toleration. He divides his time between Toronto and Brooklyn.