For example, were all politicians to fully disclose every personal foibles, character flaw, and detail concerning personal life, few honest politicians would ever by elected.
Source: GRE Answers to the Real Essay Questions
English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
The sentence could be rewritten as
"If all politicians were to fully disclose every personal foible
s, character flaw, and detail concerning personal life, (then) few honest politicians would ever be elected"
It's a way to create an if-then sentence without actually saying either of those words.
Another example is "Had I known before that it would be this cold, I would have brought a jacket."
That sentence means the exact same thing as "If I had known before that it would be this cold, (then) I would have brought a jacket."
It's important to note that you can only start this sentence structure with an auxiliary verb (i.e. you can't say "Knew I before that it would be this cold")
If every politician was supposed to tell the public every small shortcoming/flaw, and every detail of their personal life, few politicians could win an election by being honest.