Donald Trump is making a mockery of the American political system. His effort is revealing. Trump is doing a terrific job of using a basic English form—the simple declarative sentence—to highlight what most of us already know: our professional politician class is mostly talk and no action.
In its most fundamental form, the simple declarative sentence contains a subject and a predicate. For those of you who slept through English class, the subject is the thing that is doing something or just plain old being something. It could be an object, an idea, a place, or a person. The predicate is the part of the sentence that has a verb in it and which states something about the subject.
Here are a few examples of simple declarative sentences:
I leave for New Hampshire Tomorrow.
Breakfast is at nine a.m.
Please fuel up my jet.
It is a great day for a rally.
Pretty simple. There is no doubt about each message.
Here are Donald Trump direct quotes reported by the Washington Post on August 22, 2015. They are from his University of Alabama football stadium rally the day before.
“We have politicians that don’t have a clue.”
“They’re all talk, no action.”
“What’s happening to this country is disgraceful.”
“We’re running on fumes.”
“There’s nothing here.”
“We’re not going to have a country left.”
“We need to have our borders.”
“We need to make great deals.”
“We’re going to build a wall.”
“Has this been crazy?”
“Man! I mean, it’s been wild.”
“I’d like to have the election tomorrow.”
“I don’t want to wait.”
“We are going to have a wild time in Alabama tonight!”
“Finally, the silent majority is back!”
“These hats are hot as a pistol.”
Simple sentences. Single ideas per sentence. Powerful.
In contrast, the article quotes a critical comment from a professional politician, former Alabama congressman Jack Edwards, who gave us this:
“My plea to my conservatives is, ‘Don’t get so far out in right field that we can’t talk to anyone but ourselves.’ ”
Huh? Double negative? Mixed Metaphors? To understand what this politician said, you would need to get a chalk board (and some chalk) to diagram that convoluted sentence. And since we do not diagram sentences anymore in English class, well, what former Congressman Edwards uttered was essentially meaningless.
In the meantime, the Trump Simple Declarative Sentence Tour marches on with this imperative, but simple declarative sentence motto:
“Make America Great Again.”
Richard J. Schneider is the creator of the Vic Bengston Investigation series of mystery novels.