What is the origin of the political phrasing: "[Name of politician] for [name of state or country]"? I was thinking about this when looking at the banner at the top of Ron Silliman's blog entry yesterday: not "Pennacchio for U.S. Senate," for instance, but "Pennacchio for Pennsylvania." (I imagine in this case Pennacchio is taking advantage of the fact that "Penn" is part of his name.)
The first time I remember seeing this locution was "Dean for America," and I remember thinking it was really weird at the time. (Actually, living in Hyde Park, I still see those words looking at me from every other bumper.) Was Howard Dean running for the position of "America"? Was there an implied ellipsis: "Howard Dean [is best] for America"? Or was Dean "for" America in the same way that you might be "for" the Cubs or the White Sox?
After that, though, it seemed like everyone was adopting the "for..." Barack Obama's website, if I recall, was obamaforillinois.com. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign site is called, um, "Rod for Illinois."
So is this a new phenomenon? I don't remember "Dukakis for America" or "Arnold for California" or anything of that ilk. And is it a largely Democratic phenomenon? A random troll of political sites doesn't turn up any Republicans using this formula.
A note on the actual content of Ron's post: What Ron calls the ideological incoherence of Democratic tickets this year seems, perversely, to be an effect of a national campaign effort that is more centralized than any time in recent memory, with the national party deciding well in advance of primary season who can win--based almost entirely on biography and name recognition rather than on ideology--and then sinking huge resources into getting that person on the ballot in the general election. The best example around here is "Fighting Dem" Tammy Duckworth, an Asian American officer who lost both legs in Iraq and who (with a lot of national funding) edged out a more established (and possibly more progressive) local candidate who had come with striking distance of victory two years before in a heavily Republican district. National concerns (the desire to reclaim credibility on Iraq and the military) and Duckworth's compelling story clearly trumped the grassroots here.
This isn't to say that Duckworth isn't a great candidate, and she has a good shot at winning a seat formerly held by Rep. Henry Hyde--in another parallel, Hyde has long been the House version of Santorum in the vehemence of his opposition to abortion (most prominently through the infamous Hyde Amendment, which prohibits Medicaid from funding abortions). But it's hard to say what the ultimate result of this centralizing strategy will be: we're watching a large, diverse, decentralized party that loses trying to make itself more like the small, disciplined, centralized party that wins.