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Why are some candidate referred to by first name & others by last name?

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Bucky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-21-07 02:17 AM
Original message
Why are some candidate referred to by first name & others by last name?
I remember first noticing this phenomenon in 1984. I was at the Democratic Senate District caucus in Houston and the people supporting different candidates had signs up reading "Hart", "Mondale", and "Jesse".

"Jesse?" I thought. "A black man finally makes a serious run for the presidency and he's still given the the second-class treatment of being referred to by his Christian name instead of his last name? How insulting!"

I was being stupid, of course. The people referring to Jackson as "Jesse" were his supporters--the last people who would disrespect him. The familiarity of calling him by his first name was a little country, a little hoaky, but it was also an intimacy. Jackson put together a true rainbow coaltion--peole easily forget how audacious his candidacy was, how most leaders in the black community kept him at arm's distance that year (far different than his 1988 run), how he was embraced by farmers, Hispanics, homeless advocates, social workers, gays, ACLUers, people who missed Bobby.

He was Kucinich before Kucinich was Kucinich. It was a personal and intimate campaign.

I'm wondering why some candidacies are like that--often they're the windmill jousters: like Bobby and Jesse. You never see Republicans doing this. Their closest equivalent is to adopt nicknames, the sort you'd toss around the golf links: Ike, Dubya, Gipper. But rather than be being intimacies, they're more like advertising slogans, a brand name to sell to the public. "I like Ike"; "W: The President".

The one exception to this Republican rule is Arnold. I don't like making such a creepy, pro-fat cat, big business tree sloth sound like a personal acquaintance, so I always make an effort to refer to the California governor as Schwarzeneggar. But honestly I can never quite remember if it's spelled with double-Ns or double-Gs. That, plus in the universe of first-name celebrities, Arnold will always mean "Palmer."

But I digress.

This year only one candidate is frequently referred to by first name: Hillary. I'm not sure I get that same sense of warmth, that sense of family, from her candidacy. But that's just me and I don't intend this to be a discussion about her candidacy in particular. Instead, I'm wondering why some candidates become first name candidates. Is there any criterion for it, is it just a random thing, or is there something subtler at work here, a demeaning of the candidate's qualifications?
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Matariki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-21-07 02:20 AM
Response to Original message
1. I think it's because those years and years of 'Hillary' bashing have been internalized
as evidenced here on DU. It's sad. And it's unconscious sexism methinks.
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Ayesha Donating Member (587 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-21-07 02:29 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Sexism, possibly, but also
If you say "Clinton", people don't know if you mean her or Bill. I do notice that Nancy Pelosi is referred to as "Pelosi" by the media in general, not "Nancy".
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Raine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-21-07 02:33 AM
Response to Original message
3. Comfort level
possibly or feeling more familar with some than others. Also could be identifying more with some. I tend to call the women more by first names than the men. Possibly being a woman I identfy more with them and not so formal. I really don't know why. :shrug: Maybe some politicians have an "invisible line" around them that makes you feel more detached or formal with them.
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gristy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-21-07 02:43 AM
Response to Original message
4. A sign of the times
First names are used often. Too often, IMO.
When a friend introduces me to their kid using my first name, I cringe. Sometimes I'll boom out in my most adult voice "You can call me Mr. ---".
Junk mail always uses your first name since their mailing list probably isn't sure if you're a guy or a gal.
Eliot Spitzer's campaign literature refered to him as "Eliot". He could get away with it. Lightweights can't.
Fortunately, the MSM hasn't jumped on this bandwagon - yet. They seem to have pretty strict rules for naming people.
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JohnnyLib2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-21-07 02:50 AM
Response to Original message
5. Her campaign site uses Hillary by itself

www.votehillary.org

Seems to me that name or brand recognition is a "fact of life" in the U.S.

Some others in politics:

Ike
"Jimmeh"
Ahhnold


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TexasProgresive Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-21-07 06:18 AM
Response to Original message
6. It's disrespectful to use a first name as to a surname.
We tend to be very informal in this country but it still works as a way to put someone down at some deep visceral level.
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patricia92243 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-21-07 07:21 AM
Response to Original message
7. I thought it was just necessity - Hillary to let us know which Clinton, Arnold because Schwarzenegge...
is too hard to spell or pronounce, Rudi because Giuliana too hard to spell, etc. I always thought it was just utilitarian - had nothing to do with warmth or coziness.
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mwb970 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-21-07 08:45 AM
Response to Original message
8. I don't know what to make of it, but I have noticed it.
The roundtable pundits on cable news shows often use first names for the people they talk about. "Joe's problem is..." or "Jane needs a new position on...". It's kind of weird.
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