People can be motivated or inspired to act by multiple means. But in politics—like religion—most looking for support use one of two motivations: hope and fear.
Georgia Republican candidate Harrison Floyd definitely chose the latter for his latest campaign ad. Seizing on a pervasive GOP theme of "socialism bad, Republican good," Floyd figuratively and literally targeted New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Both have been open about being progressives who support the ideals of Democratic socialism. Democratic socialism espouses using public funds to benefit the most voters—through prioritizing things like infrastructure—and the most vulnerable—through programs for children, the elderly or disabled.
With images of the two legislators, Floyd vows in a new ad to fight socialism the same way politicians of the 1950s vowed to eliminate Communism. His choice to include firearms and implied violence caused some to quickly condemn the ad however.
Watch the full ad here.
As shown in the video, Floyd stated:
"I’ll fight socialists in Congress the same way I fought terrorists in the desert."
The voiceover accompanies photos of Sanders and AOC followed by Floyd firing a rifle. The Georgia GOP member went on to say:
"I’m running for Congress because my family and I didn’t fight for our freedoms to allow our country to fall to socialism."
Floyd also posted his new ad on Twitter.
Things the GOP avidly supported—like farm subsidies and tax breaks—are considered socialism, not capitalism. So are public schools, hospitals, social support services like Medicare and Social Security and publicly funded infrastructure like roads, bridges and airports.
But the truth does not incite a fear response. However fear motivations—while often more effective than hope—used for political gain sometimes incite violence, as with the MAGA bomber.
The incumbent Republican in Floyd's district is retiring so several Republican and Democratic candidate candidates entered the Georgia congressional district 7 race.
One of Floyd's Democratic challengers decried his choice of campaign imagery. Carolyn Bourdeaux posted on Twitter in response to Floyd's ad:
"Violence has absolutely no place in our public discourse & I denounce this abhorrent video in the strongest possible terms."
“This message doesn’t represent GA values & for Harrison Floyd to enter this race by inciting violence is wrong."
Bourdeaux was not alone in decrying Floyd's choices. For some voters, Floyd's fear tactic motivated them to vote against the candidate.
Others found the fear tactic employed for Democratic Socialists amusing.
Others wanted Floyd to specify which socialist programs he was going to fight like he fought terrorists.
Floyd still faces a primary against other Republican hopefuls for the Georgia 7th congressional district candidacy in 2020. Whether his campaign to play on fear pays off with Republican voters remains to be seen.