By Caitlin Elam, Sr. Contributor
Editors note: this interview was originally published on February 10, 2019. The Democratic Party that Brandon walked away from continues to degrade, and is even worse than it was in 2019. Many of the observations Brandon notices about the Left hold true today – which is why we are republishing this piece for you to read.
When you speak to Brandon Straka, the first thing you’ll probably notice is the distinct lack of Russian accent. According to his critics in various forms of social media, Straka is a Russian implant, placed to subvert the American Democratic Party by saying he no longer chooses to be involved with the Democrats or liberals and urging others on the left side of the aisle to do what he did: walk away.
The lack of Russian dialect and accent from Straka could be from many hours of vocal conditioning and coaching or it could, in an “Occam’s Razor” view of the thing, be due to him being from Nebraska (not Neberezhnye Chelny, Russia). The Midwestern native currently resides in New York City, where he spends most of his time supporting, creating content for, and speaking with members of the Walk Away Campaign. The website, www.walkawaycampaign.com, is “grassroots” and is financed through donations on GoFundMe and Patreon (not the Kremlin, as many have accused). The organization was initiated by Straka when he decided that the Democratic party and the paralleled ideology of liberalism no longer paralleled with his political worldview.
Brandon’s Backstory: Very anti-Trump and pro-Democrat
When Brandon had his first moments of doubt with the Democratic Party (or series of moments, in his case), he didn’t have dreams of a national movement or even a statewide one. He didn’t have goals of going into politics or becoming a journalist, let alone an activist. Brandon Straka was, initially, very anti-President Trump, pro-impeachment of the same, and pro-liberalism. When asked what drew him to the Democratic party in the first place, he said,
“I really felt like it was just being a gay man. I was somebody who always knew I was gay from a very young age. The messages that I think I got were that I was more accepted and more tolerated on the left than on the right. Well, that was definitely the message I got. The message seemed to be that Republicans are very bigoted, homophobic, racist; this was what I believed. The world recently kind of got over its homophobia – or, I mean, the American world – the Democrats were not that much better, but I think that maybe at the time it seemed like they were a little bit better and that’s where I found myself, hanging around with other liberals. That’s where I felt most accepted and tolerated. The common context was that I should vote Democrat because I was a liberal. Honestly, I didn’t put that much thought into it. It was literally, ‘Well, I’m gay so this is what I’m supposed to do.’”
Interestingly, despite being staunchly and steadfastly Democrat, he was already having misgivings about the liberal philosophy “for years” and how it had evolved from the party he had known before. He said,
“I feel like two things were running parallel to each other…my relationship and allegiance to the Democratic Party and just the ideology of liberalism in general. I had become uncomfortable with liberalism for years and I was talking to people about the identity politics, the political correctness and way that people were just becoming more divided and not more unified. It started becoming very oppressive; people were afraid to talk or to express an opinion and sometimes people would blatantly tell them they weren’t allowed to [express an opinion], depending on the color of their skin, or their gender, or if they were straight. I was seeing this happening and I was like, ‘Well, this isn’t fair.’ I mean, hating straight people is not better than being homophobic and hating white people isn’t better than hating black people. It’s the same thing but in reverse. I was already becoming uncomfortable with liberalism.”
Donald Trump wins in 2016…and Brandon was distraught
Despite these misgivings or discomfort, he stayed faithfully blue and voted for Hilary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential Election. Clinton subsequently lost the election to President Donald Trump, 227 electoral votes to the President’s 304 on November 8th, 2016. When she lost the election, Straka describes how he felt as a gay Democrat in New York City, confronted at the time with the reality of a Donald Trump presidency:
“I was crying and distraught…I was afraid. The media was saying time and again that this [Trump] was a raging bigot and that gay people were in danger, black people were in danger, Jews were in danger. [The media] kept churning out stories about ways we were going to lose our rights and how our place in society and our progress was going to be reversed or inhibited. And then they [the media] started talking about how all the hate crimes were spiking and the Ku Klux Klan was growing. You know, it was really scary stuff.”
A video from a friend in Nebraska started the #WalkAway process
To cope with his fear, he took to the internet, often “ranting and raving” on social media about President Trump in general, but also occasionally about something specifically Straka felt the President had done poorly. One specific incident of posting a diatribe by Straka was prompted because President Trump was under scrutiny in the media for allegedly mocking a reporter’s disabilities in a speech. Trump was accused of making an arm gesture while imitating Serge Kovaleski, a journalist, that seemed to some to be deliberately making light of the reporter’s disability, arthrogryposis (“a congenital joint contracture in two or more areas of the body,” according to Wikipedia). Straka posited a question to his friends and family via Facebook: “How can you people of middle-America do this? How could you vote for this monster?” He received an answer he wasn’t expecting, in the form of a private message from a childhood friend from Nebraska. It was a video from YouTube and his friend urged him to simply watch it and come to his own conclusions.
“It was a compilation video showing footage going back like ten years of Donald Trump doing that exact same voice, that exact same gesture, that day he was ‘mocking that reporter’s disability’,” Straka explained, “In all of the clips, it was him imitating somebody who had been caught in a lie or somebody who was doing something shady, or they were groveling because they had been caught doing something underhanded. It became very clear that he wasn’t imitating that reporter’s disability whatsoever; he was just making fun of the fact that that reporter, who just happened to be disabled, had been caught in a lie. To me, it was absolutely mind-blowing. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing…there was this disconnect between my brain and my heart when I was watching it. My brain was saying ‘Oh my God, I don’t think he was mocking that guy’s disability,’ but my heart was saying, ‘But we hate him, but we hate him, but we hate him.’ I was having trouble reconciling those two conflicting feelings. I went to bed that night and I was like, ‘Okay, I don’t know what to make of this.’ The next day I woke up, and when I watched it again, I was like, ‘Okay, he clearly did not make fun of that man’s disability.’”
Brandon tries to talk to his liberal friends…
Confronted with this new evidence, he did what most would do: he talked to his friends about it, or, according to him, he tried to talk to his friends about it. “A lot of people refused to even watch [the video] and a lot of other people were just like, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing? What? So you love Trump now? So you’re turning to the Dark Side?’” he said, referencing the “bad guys” in the Star Wars Franchise, the Sith, who are often referred to as “the Dark Side” juxtaposed to the “Light Side” or “good guys” of the Jedi in filmmaker George Lucas’ “Force” dichotomy of evil and good, respectively.
At that point, he says he wasn’t a Trump supporter or a conservative but merely seeking clarification on something that conflicted greatly with what he thought to be true. He started to see a less tolerant side of the Democratic Party demonstrated in his friends when he asked their opinion on the YouTube video compilation sent to him by his friend. “They didn’t want to hear it,” he said, “It was like they felt like, ‘Please don’t show me something that will make it harder for me to hate him.’” Considering the push-back from his friends, he said, “I started to realize that I wasn’t really safe asking questions and/or people weren’t welcoming my curiosity.” Disheartened by his friends’ reaction to his questions or assertions, nonetheless, he continued to research, reading and watching anything he could find about liberalism versus conservatism and trying to figure out where he fits in that spectrum, if at all.
“At night, I would go to bed and get on YouTube or get on the Internet and I would start researching…I was researching because things were just not making sense to me. I was like, ‘How on Earth could all of these people have voted for him if he was really this horrible?’ Because I know these people. I grew up around all of these people in Nebraska. I was like, ‘These people are not insane and they’re not horrible people. It’s just not possible. This doesn’t make sense that they could have gone along with this if he was this horrible.’ So, I started to find all these ways in which the media had really created this narrative in advance of him being this horrible person and then taking all these moments out of context and spinning them to support that narrative.”
Liberal media bias noticed at a Trump rally
One such incident he found of apparent liberal media bias was at a Trump rally. “This one video I found on YouTube was at one of his rallies. There were these black people who showed up to support him and when CNN got there, CNN cut them out of the shot so that it appeared like there were only white people at the rally,” Straka said. In another video, “I watched all the comments about [people saying] ‘Oh well you [Trump] called all Mexicans rapists.’ Well, if you watch the entire statement that he made; first of all, he was speaking very glowingly about the country of Mexico for quite a while before that statement. The statement was just about corruption within the Mexican government and how they would often, because of prison overcrowding…release criminals and send them over the border, because they didn’t want to deal with their own criminals. He was literally talking about rapists and bad people. He wasn’t talking about the average citizen of Mexico.”
The shift in his friendships happened subtly at first. Initially, he noticed wasn’t invited to parties in his large group of friends where “every month it’s at least one person’s birthday,” he said. Brandon would get on social media to see how a certain friend he’d not be in touch with lately was doing and found himself blocked or unfriended most of the time. As he became more vocal, the reactions from his friends became more hostile.
“Many of them would attack me and say that I was on drugs, or that I was having a nervous breakdown, or that I was brainwashed, or that I was mentally ill – all of these different things so they could discredit me simply because I was discovering things and talking about it. I existed in a huge state of anxiety because I felt every time I opened my mouth, someone else was going to walk out of my life, or something bad was going to happen. I couldn’t stop trying to learn more and find out what the truth was about what was happening and so I started watching debates when I would go to bed – Tucker Carlson or Ben Shapiro or any of these very intelligent conservatives. I would watch them debate issues with liberals. I just felt like, ‘Wow, the conservative point of view makes so much more sense than the liberal point of view. The liberals are just so emotional – they’re not looking at facts or statistics.’ And everything [for liberals] comes back to racism and identity politics. You can’t have an open and honest discussion where you discuss social issues and the facts behind them. Obama, for instance: if you try to discuss anything having to do with Obama’s policies that failed, so many people will just say, ‘Oh you just hate that there was a black man in the office.’ NO. I’m literally talking about the policies. I just started to see how weak and flimsy the liberal point of view was, and conservativism was making so much more sense to me. I started to feel like, ‘Oh my God, I think I’m becoming a conservative.’”
2018: Brandon becomes a conservative Republican
By the beginning of 2018, Brandon Straka concluded that he was not only a conservative Republican but furthermore, he wanted to start his campaign to cope with the anxiety of losing his friends because of his newly-defined political philosophy. He sat down and wrote his, as he describes, “manifesto” of what he found wrong or broken about the liberal dogma or Democratic party in general and shot a video. He felt, at that point, he could get all his views out in the open in one fell swoop and anyone who wanted to walk out of his life could do so and the remainder of persons who stuck by him would be people he could trust as his real friends. He realized then that this action had a broader scope and might help create a community of people, like himself, who were disenfranchised with current liberalism and its corresponding party, the Democrats.
“I realized there’s something more here because a lot of other people are feeling the same way I feel. And a lot of other people are feeling oppressed and are sick and tired of having to go along with [it], especially with what the left has become now: the violence, the vandalism, the name-calling, the hatred, and the censorship. All this ugliness that is coming from the left, and it’s like if you don’t go along with it, they’ll attack you. People are sick of it and they don’t want it anymore. They’re afraid. They’re afraid of losing their friends or their jobs.”
Straka said that he wanted to give others, who had or were thinking about walking away from the Democratic/liberal mindset, the opportunity to shoot videos and tell their stories, as he had done. The response was overwhelming. As the campaign started to pick up more media attention, especially on Twitter and in interviews with prominent Republican/conservative TV personalities, his personal life by way of relationships with friends took a nose dive.
The zenith of personal vitriol aimed his way happened a month prior to this interview (August 8th, 2018) when he lost his best friend. Sometime in July, Brandon received a call from someone he, at the time, considered his best friend, their friendship starting around their third-grade year in elementary school.
“He found out about the campaign and he called me screaming, enraged…He called me a bunch of names…He was saying things like, ‘So you love Trump now, so you’re all religious now?’ And I’m like, ‘Religious? I’m not religious and even if I was…first of all, if I want to be religious that’s nobody’s business but I’m not anyway so, I mean, it just didn’t make any sense…I got off the phone with him because it was just so crazy and he started texting me and saying all these things about how ‘our whole lives you bullied me, you were a horrible person,’ and whatever. It was just bad…I didn’t engage with him again and that was about a month ago. Last Saturday, I was on the Judge Jeannie Show on Fox, he must have seen it, and the next morning I woke up…these horrible messages from him. Shredding me, shredding my parents…just nasty, nasty stuff,” he said. Upon follow-up later, he noted that this man who was once his best friend since childhood messaged him after another interview with Judge Jeannie. “I woke up the next morning and I had a string of text messages from him saying that he was embarrassed by me, that I should be ashamed, that because of me…people are going to think being gay is a choice and that gay kids are going to suffer because of me…all this nonsense.”
Straka said that his message has never been that being gay is a choice, but rather used a play on words using “choice” in terms of political party, not sexual preference. “That gay people have a choice, which is that they don’t have to be Democrats. They don’t have to be liberals. If you’re gay, you can be independently minded, you can think for yourself, you can choose to be a conservative, or an independent, or a libertarian, or a Democrat but you don’t have to, just because you’re gay, you don’t have to be a Democrat…Of course, gay people do not choose to be gay, that is not my message,” he said. Straka has not had any contact with his former friend since then, opting not to respond to his ex-friend’s commentary and accusations.
When asked if he’s ever received any kind of productive or less angry/emotional response from those on the left, he said, “Never have I had somebody in a calm or reasonable way come to me and say, ‘Help me understand what has made you change your mind, what’s going on?’ No, that’s never happened.”
Before the campaign’s inception, when he was simply asking questions and researching, he had already begun to cope with the loss of friends and that coping mechanism carried over as the campaign began and started to gain traction.
“It hurts so bad the first few times and then you just start to kind of expect it, I guess. You kind of start putting a wall up a little bit. I’m a pretty emotional person by nature so I’m not going to lie and say it doesn’t affect me at all, because it does. At the same time people were leaving my life and attacking me, I was starting to make more conservative friends. One or two liberal friends would leave and then maybe I’d make one new conservative friend…and with each conservative friend I made, I had that validation that, ‘I’m not doing anything wrong. What I’m saying, what I’m thinking, what I’m believing, there’s nothing wrong [with it].’ I mean, this was just logical stuff that makes sense. It’s not hateful and bigoted. I’m not all of a sudden a racist, I’m not all of a sudden a self-loathing gay man. My attitudes towards people and social issues haven’t changed at all; it’s literally just matters of policy and what’s good for the country. It hurt and was shocking the first few times but then it’s like I started to kind of expect it a little bit. Then I also had developed maybe some coping skills surrounding it and also just the knowledge that, ‘As much as this sucks, it’s really not my problem because I’m not doing anything wrong and I don’t want to live in a world where I have to pretend to believe something I don’t believe at all just so that people will be nice to me. I would rather tell the truth and let people react however they’re going to react’.”
Straka’s healthy worldview, partly instilled by his new friends and healthier outlook, is coupled with his passion for his #WalkAway project. Most days, he barely has time to eat or sleep because he is working so hard. Currently in the works is the “#WalkAway March” from the 26th of October to the 28th, with the actual march/rally happening on the 27th.
#WalkAway interviews with conservative voices
To initially raise awareness about his project, Straka took to many conservative platforms, as well as his own Twitter and Facebook, to advertise and fundraise for the event. The ultimate goal was half a million dollars ($500,000). Straka was interviewed on Infowars by Alex Jones. Straka admits to knowing that Jones is a polarizing figure with some of Jones’ reports and shows, so much so that Jones received a unilateral ban from all social media. Straka says that, despite how Jones is portrayed in the media, he was very welcoming to Straka and courteous. In the wake of Jones’ social media ban, but still wanting to get the project’s event news out, Straka agreed to appear on Alex Jones’ show on InfoWars.com. Straka clearly stated his expectation that the only thing they speak about on the program was the #WalkAway project itself, as well as the impending march event in October.
When Straka took to Facebook to advertise his appearance on the show, he was banned on their platform, for using the words “InfoWars” on Wednesday, September 12th.
“I think it was completely systematic and calculated,” Straka told Davis Richardson of Observer when asked about it. “You’re telling me that I’m the only person on Facebook who’s used the words InfoWars? You think every person who writes the words InfoWars is getting banned?”
According to Richardson’s article, Straka “milked” the ban and the disruption to his “coordination of an October rally in Washington D.C.-which has [sic] raised over $110,00 [as of September 13th, when the article was published] through GoFundMe launched in June,” said Richardson in his article. Richardson further claimed that Straka exacerbated the accuracy of his ban and that Facebook contacted Richardson and told him that Straka’s Facebook account was reinstated the very afternoon of the ban; according to Richardson, Facebook also evidently issued an apology to Straka, as well. According to Straka, this is yellow journalism and categorically untrue.
“I ended up doing a lot of interviews that day [of the ban] about the topic, and the next day (Thursday) [September 13th], I ended up doing like twelve interviews back-to-back with people who wanted to talk about the ban, so I was very busy the next day. In the evening, I checked my text messages and I had a text message from a reporter. He’s a very liberal reporter for the Observer [referring to Davis Richardson] …saying, ‘Brandon, someone from Facebook reached out to me to say that they lifted your ban earlier. Why are you lying and continuing the narrative that you’re still banned when you are not?’” said Straka. He got on Facebook after this, having previously resolved not to sign on due to believing he had a 30-day ban on the platform, negating the need to try to sign on in the first place.
“Facebook has not reached out to me, they instead reached out to a liberal reporter to let him know and then that reporter did a hit piece about me saying I was lying about the ban and actually published it,” said Straka. He noted that the information put out that he received an apology and any notification of the reinstatement of his account is false.
#WalkAway March in Washington D.C.; “We walked away alone, now we march together”
Regardless of the inaccurate reporting by the Observer and Richardson, Straka has persisted with his goal of making the march happen. On October 23rd, Straka tweeted out documents from an email sent to participants to inform about the events surrounding the march, as well as the march itself. The literature, written by the #WalkAway March planning team, boasts a VIP Cocktail Hour and Gala Dinner on Friday at Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C., a march from John Marshall Memorial Park to Freedom Plaza (a 20-minute walk/approximately one mile) with live music and speakers in both locations, and a Sunday Brunch with keynote speaker, Dinesh D’Souza (filmmaker, author, and political commentator).
Straka, according to the literature, has posted guidelines to maintain order and keep the march/rally civilized and non-violent. Some of the guidelines include no weapons, respecting and obeying all authorities in the area always, keeping homemade signs appropriate and “peaceful”, and overall, to be civilized in speech and action to all of those in the area.
According to the literature, “The planning team for this event has been working around the clock for several weeks to ensure that your experience is one you won’t forget. This event is a wonderful opportunity for comradery, and to make new lifelong friends, while peacefully expressing your views. We are honored and privileged that you have chosen to share the weekend with us, and that you are a part of the #WalkAway Campaign. We look forward to meeting all of you and we are more than excited that the weekend is finally almost upon us! Thank you so much for your support, and let’s get this show on the road!”
The slogan of the event is simple and powerful: “We walked away alone, now we march together”.
PHOTO HEADER: EPOC Times