Sometimes a Great Notion.

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

And just like that, we’re past Halloween, through the tissue-paper barrier between October and November, and headed down the chute toward the first Tuesday in November…historically, Election Day.

But for maybe as many as 35% of eligible voters, they’ve been there, and, in many cases, stood in line quite a while before having done that…voted, that is.

That’s heartening, to be sure. But here in Georgia, the potential of early voting still collides with the realities of state law (flatly forbidding early voting on Saturday and on the Monday before the election) and our classic oh-we’re-a-sleepy-southern-state-isn’t-it-cute state government that is now forecasting that, aw, shucks, it might be several days until we get that darn avalanche of ballots counted.


So Sammy, smart enough to see I could use a distraction along with some exercise, took me up to Northwest Georgia for a nice hike, and I brought my Obama-Biden button along to counteract some of the vibes cast by the dozens of McCain-Palin signs that dot the rural Georgia landscape. The leaves were beautiful, the air was clear, and I’ve returned in a good place to enter my final 40 hours or so of focused, intense concern and active internet monitoring of our Tuesday general election.

And yes, we will, as tradition holds, walk down to the library to cast our ballot…in the morning. If we’re still standing in line as the sun goes down…well, we’ll stand, feeling fortunate that we have the kind of schedule where that can happen. And I’ll make sure the iPhone is fully charged.

One linguistic tic that I’m noticing all over the darn place this campaign…but especially coming out at the beginning of Barack Obama’s carefully-crafted responses, is this notion of…this notion.

It’s this quasi-intellectual way of holding an idea up between two fingers, with apparent scientific detachment mixed with a dash of disdain, moments before you toss it aside as not quite what you want to sign your name to.

“we should overcome this notion of North-South…”
“this notion of the little person going up against the big and powerful…”
“this notion of self- constraint is one that is set out in terms of the ability of the self to be governed by pure practical reason…”
“This notion of punishing people by not talking to them has not worked…”
“But this notion of no coal, I think, is an illusion.”

After I started batting this notion around in my election-soaked brain, I came across this AJR piece that suggests that its use is on the rise precisely because Obama uses it as a rhetorical device: “it may mean that Barack Obama’s speech pattern has gotten into our brains…even those of conservative commentators and reporters – all unawares.”

So be prepared for a post-election boost in notional discourse. Or, perhaps, invest now in “items used in sewing, such as buttons, pins, and hooks”…definition three in my Mac’s New Oxford American Dictionary.

Hope to see you at the Starbucks with your “I voted” sticker on tomorrow.