According to Shanto Iyengar and Jennifer A. McGrady’s “Media Politics: A Citizen’s Guide,” a candidate’s adverting on policy should follow a simple formula: highlight the candidate’s position, but only focus on the issues where your candidate is favored. The rules adjoining this simple plan call for a candidate to not publicize support for a controversial position and to stay within safe issues a candidate’s party has more claim over. Owned issues are a staple to any campaign because a candidate has the backing of their party, which owns an advantage on the issue. While this plan has worked in the past, is it still relevant? Can political parties still own an issue?
National Security is not just owned by Republicans anymore. While my classmates indicated that they still associate the two together, is it really logical to claim that? Iyengar and McGrady indicate that the Bush administration’s massive intelligence failure presented an opportunity for John Kerry to challenge ownership over national security. And while Kerry did not win, he did upset the Republican control over the issue of national security. He now currently serves as the Secretary of State. It was also announced last month the U.S. was heading back to Iraq. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is debatable, but one cannot debate that the issue of national security isn’t owned by one particular party in lieu of the current administration.
Under the Obama administration, the U.S.’s national security has reflected the previous administration, but biased political news sources like Fox News and MSNBC still try to create a party ownership of the issue. Recently, Obama got reprimanded by Fox News for saluting troops with a coffee in his hand. A photo then surfaced of Bush saluting troops with a dog in his arms, which caused further debate. Jon Stewart from the Daily Show perfectly outlined the hypocrisy of the situation. On his show he said, “So here we’ve got two presidents, both sending the United States to war citing the same legal authorities, both without any seeming exit strategy, and both holding shit in their hands while saluting our troops. But in their diseased minds, only one did that because he loved America; the other did it because he hated it.” The salute pictures are irrelevant to that actual issue of national security, but news sources are grabbing on to these tidbits and giving them national coverage instead of talking about how similar the Bush and Obama administrations have acted. Why is this? Maybe these news sources are trying to stick to the simple plan, but is it really working? Does a party really own the issue of national security anymore?
As we go back to Iraq, I feel this issue will dominate the 2016 election and I’m curious who will take ownership. However, following the simple plan, the parties could stay away from national security since it’s not a safe topic. The 2012 election media politics had a focus on domestic policies like the Affordable Care Act and the economy. Both parties had a stance on these issues and used media politics and campaigns to illustrate their policy positions. In general, both parties now have a stance on every issue and have become much more polarized. They own each side of their issue and candidate’s can campaign on that stance for political favorability. Thus, issue ownership has become outdated for policy advertising except for national security.
The issue of national security doesn’t really have two sides. The Bush and Obama administration have acted in the same manner. While the Bush administration was criticized for a massive intelligence failure, the Obama administration has also come under fire for invading the civil liberties of American citizens in it’s massive intelligence gathering policies. And both administrations have put our presence in the Middle East. As we continue in war and debate how much power to give to intelligence gathering, will both parties continue to fight over ownership especially if the party leaders are acting in the same manner? Or will the issue be swept aside? I’m curious how policy advertising will be conducted in 2016.
Iyengar, Shanto, and Jennifer A. McGrady. “Media Politics: A Citizen’s Guide.” Web. 2 Oct. 2014. http://pcl.stanford.edu/common/docs/research/iyengar/2007/mp-excerpt.pdf
BruinKid. “Jon Stewart to Eric Bolling: ‘F*** you and your false patriotism.'” Daily Kos. 26 Sept. 2014. Web. 2 Oct. 2014. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/09/26/1332519/-Jon-Stewart-to-Eric-Bolling-F-you-and-all-your-false-patriotism#