When Brandon Straka, a former lifelong Democratic voter, posted his iconic first #WalkAway video just over a year ago, he didn’t imagine that it would turn into a movement of roughly a half-million unique social followers, and inspire tens of thousands to make original #WalkAway videos themselves.
Why did they walk away from the Democratic Party? How were their lives affected as a result? And what was the media’s role in all of this?
Epoch Times senior editor Jan Jekielek interviewed #WalkAway founder Straka, as well as two other New Yorkers who have walked away from the Democratic Party: Daniel Morchy and Christopher Wright.
Jan Jekielek: I’m very excited to have you all here today—Brandon Straka, Daniel, Chris—on American Thought Leaders. Tell me more about the #WalkAway movement.
Brandon Straka: About a year ago at this time, I started something called the #WalkAway campaign, because I was walking away from being a liberal and a Democratic Party voter my entire life—devoted to that party. I think [being drawn to] the ideology of liberalism was largely influenced by the fact that I am a minority in America as a gay man. [It’s] an interesting panel that we have today of American minorities who have walked away from the Democratic Party.
What happened for me was just the realization that the liberal media was really manipulating all people, but particularly minorities. And what bothered me so much about that is the realization that they were really using fear and identity politics to divide people, to scare people, and to manipulate the way that we think, and the way that we vote, and the way that we behave.
I knew that I needed to walk away, but I also knew that there were probably a lot of other people who were feeling the way I was feeling. So I decided to start a movement, a campaign on social media, encouraging people to make video testimonials. That’s how it started—with me doing a six-minute video saying why I was walking away and encouraging other people to speak up and do exactly the same thing. And it took.
Mr. Jekielek: So, Chris and Daniel were folks who did videos that were inspired by you. I’m wondering if you could just introduce them.
Mr. Straka: Sure. This is Daniel Morchy, a good friend of mine; Christopher Wright, who is also a good friend of mine … gentlemen that I both met because of the campaign, because of the #WalkAway movement.
Mr. Jekielek: Fantastic. So Daniel, tell me a little bit about what made you decide to make your video.
Daniel Morchy: Actually, I never officially made a #WalkAway video, but Brandon knows that we’re doing an educational series, and I did do a video on anti-Semitism that is independent of the #WalkAway campaign that he started. But my walkaway experience—I certainly had one. When I was living in New York, as gay and Jewish, it’s sort of a given that you are a liberal and you are voting for the Democratic Party. So, during the last election, of course, I was going to be supporting Hillary [Clinton]. That was just the thing to do. The way the media covered Trump, and the way Democrats spoke of him, he was just like the worst possible thing that could ever happen to this country. He was a “racist,” “bigot,” “homophobe,” “fascist.”
Some people were even calling him “Hitler.” That’s actually extremely offensive when you consider how it diminishes the Holocaust. Basically, I was fearful of ever having Trump as president. So, naturally, I voted for Hillary Clinton. I guess, throughout 2017, I began to realize just how manipulative [the media is] and how much the media lies. All the things that they were saying about him—from his Charlottesville statements to his comments on immigrants being “animals,” and apparently making fun of a disabled reporter—all those things I slowly began to realize were false. They were either complete lies or lies by omission, taking things out of context.
I began waking up to the media, as well as the Democrat Party. I saw as they became increasingly radical, they were embracing socialist policies. They’re using identity politics to divide this nation, to race-bait. Their complete negligence on the border crisis—1,200 people a day is certainly a crisis. I just saw them using certain people for votes—just targeting minorities, gays, blacks, and then, in the end, not really actually doing anything for them. It just came down to votes. It’s just a game to them, so I woke up. And I think by 2018, I was completely “red-pilled.” And then when Brandon released his video …
Mr. Jekielek: “Red-pilled?” What does that mean? Some audience members might not know; some of them definitely do. What do you mean by red-pilled?
Mr. Morchy: It’s actually a reference to “The Matrix” [the science fiction action film]. You know, if you take the “blue pill,” you close your eyes to what’s going on in the world and just turn a blind eye to it all. It’s [about] what you don’t know doesn’t hurt you—that sort of thing. And “red pill” is waking up and really seeing how things work, what is really going on; it’s just sort of a light-bulb moment. So, yeah, red-pilled—I like to say that I was red-pilled, in large part [due] to Brandon, too. When he released his video a year ago now, oddly enough, I actually saw it from my dad’s cousin, who lives in London. So it made its way all the way to London shortly after it was released. That was the first time I saw it, and I thought, wow, this is me—this is everything I’ve been going through [since] 2017.
Even though I was already conscious of my views by 2018, seeing his video just reaffirmed my beliefs and my support for Donald Trump. I think that was really the first time I really said, hey, I am a Trump supporter. And it made it a lot easier—seeing that video made it a lot easier—to be more open about my views and my support. That’s basically my story.
Mr. Jekielek: That’s fascinating. Something that just struck me by what you’ve shared and what a number of other people have shared with me is that if you have these, let’s say, more conservative views, especially in a city like New York, you can feel very, very much alone.
Mr. Morchy: Absolutely.
Mr. Jekielek: You have to keep them under wraps. … Chris, maybe you can give us a sense of how you stepped into #WalkAway, as well? You were talking a little bit beforehand about this. Maybe you can expand a little more.
Christopher Wright: Yes, definitely. It goes back … I’ve always been interested in politics, even as a child. I’m kind of weird enough, right? In 2008, I was an Obama supporter. I was a leftist, a Democrat, you know, most of my life. So I campaigned for Obama in ’08, went door-to-door for him, got him a lot of votes, all that good stuff. And what I noticed is after I campaigned for him and four years of Obama, he wasn’t really sticking to his campaign, [his] word, policies—what he was saying when he was rallying. So I was already looking at the other side in 2012, and I was looking at Herman Cain, and … Ron Paul—the two candidates I was looking at. But what happened with both candidates was the media, in different ways, attacked both to mess up their chances for becoming elected, even in the primaries.
So after that occurred, I said, “OK, media looks like they determine who the presidents are in this country, not really the people.” It was interesting to me. So, 2016 came around. After eight years of Obama, I was really looking to the other side, like, OK, who’s out there, man, because we gotta have other options. And who caught my attention initially was Dr. Ben Carson. I knew Dr. Ben Carson for years. My dad’s a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor … and he met and talked to Carson three times. He gave me the book “Gifted Hands,” when I was a child. And he gave him that book, saying, “Hey, you know, young black man in America, young boy, at the time, in America … can be a lot of things in this country. You don’t have to be an athlete or a rapper or an actor. You can be successful, and you know, there are different avenues.” And he showed me Dr. Ben Carson, and I read his book, the first biography I read in my life, the first book other than a comic book I read in my life, to be honest with you. And it changed my life from that point.
I have a lot of respect for the man, so when he ran in 2016, I was [thinking] Dr. Ben Carson—I know who this man is, I’m supporting him. He was fighting for Christianity at the time, which was getting attacked in this country, so I was really onboard with what he had to do. So when he was doing good, he was the No. 1 candidate in the primary at one time, even over Trump. When that situation, when that occurred, they attacked him and said, “Oh, Dr. Ben Carson said that he was accepted to West Point, but there’s no documents of him going to West Point or getting accepted to West Point.”
And he would say: “No, I didn’t say I got accepted by West Point. I said, I spoke with administration and they offered me a chance to go there. I turned it down because I had wanted to go to a medical school, so when I graduated, I’d go right to my field.” So the media again lied, and they messed up his chances to become president. So that was the third guy I was looking at. I was like, man, you guys [the media] messed with the three candidates I was looking at to become president. Who am I going to vote for? So, of course, Donald J. Trump.
When I saw him do an interview with a reporter, he just dismantled this reporter. You know, how Trump does with the media. So after he did that, I was like, well, Trump, what are your policies? I liked how he handled the media, because I was getting sick of the media at that time. And so when I looked at his policy, I was watching his rallies, I was going on YouTube, watching his older videos, even from the ’80s. He pretty much always had the same message—about border control, about the economy, about jobs. Trump has been saying the same thing for the past 30 years. So I was like, wow! And I remember in his first interview with Oprah, they asked him if he had a chance to run, would he run for president?
He said, “No, the paycheck is not good enough,” for one. But he said if the country ever got bad enough, he’d run. And then, when I saw him running now, I was like, wow! I guess he’s sticking to his word again, so I said, “OK, I’m supporting Donald J. Trump.” Then when I came out to support him, I got a lot of backlash from friends and family, especially on social media, because I was in New York at the time. I was about three years in New York. My family is from Maryland, which is a “blue state,” so [from] family, childhood friends, a lot of anger came my way, a lot of “unfriending” in social media and in real life.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s funny, “unfriending” has become a word, right? It’s kind of crazy to me.
Mr. Wright: Yeah. It kind of transitioned into the real world that’s not just social media at this point. And it was just so crazy unfortunate. But when he got elected, I was at a point where I lost a lot of friends and family. I was on social media just kind of going on a rant because, at this point, I was going on social media to say what I wanted to say about Trump. I didn’t care about what anybody said anymore, because I was at a point in my life, like, well, I’m here. So a friend of mine, Kwan, said to me, why don’t you just make videos? I didn’t like taking pictures at that time. I was like, come on Kwan, seriously? You know, I don’t even like taking pictures. She’s like, just make a video for me—talking about your trip on the bus on the way home from New York.
So the next day—because New York is an interesting city—so an interesting story happened on the bus. I ended up telling the story, walking, just telling the story. … What do you think? She said, “Oh, it was great. It made me laugh. It was real funny.” I’m like, no, seriously? She’s like, no, it’s a really good video.
So the next day, I was riding the bus, and that’s when I saw Brandon Straka’s video. It was his #WalkAway video, and seriously, when I was on the bus watching it, it felt like he was talking to me. It was my story in a way, just told from a different voice.
And at the end of the bus ride, I said to myself … [what] he said, also in the post, if you have a testimonial for free, just post it onto the #WalkAway website on Facebook. So I said, you know what? I’m just going to do the video right now. Why not? So if you look at the beginning of my #WalkAway video, I start out by saying, “Yeah, I’m going to do a #WalkAway video. What better way to do #WalkAway video [than] while you’re walking away?” So I literally was walking home from work, and I just did the video right there. And I talked about just a lot of things I mentioned just now, and I shared the video on Facebook, and it just blew up. I got over 4,000 shares within the first 24 hours. I had people send me friend requests all over the place, and it just expanded from there. So it got to the point where I said, “I’ve got to do a YouTube channel, I guess.”
Mr. Jekielek: We’ll make sure to mention that, a little bit more about that in the show still. But Brandon, this is something that actually numerous people have told me, this kind of story—and I got this feeling, too—that when they saw your video, they felt suddenly [that] one, they weren’t alone, and two, that maybe they could actually talk and face the music, so to speak. Right? Face the unfriending, perhaps, to use that word, which I really don’t like. I’m sure you’ve heard that numerous times.
Mr. Straka: Well, yes, and that’s sort of the reason why I did it in the first place. When I wrote the script for the six-minute video that I put out, initially, it was just going to be a Facebook post. It wasn’t even going to be a video. Because what had happened to me, very similar to Daniel, was that throughout most of 2017, I was being red-pilled. My eyes were being opened, and I was slowly speaking out about it. I mean, just in little subtle ways, like asking questions on social media. Is it really a Muslim ban? Did he really call all Mexicans “rapists”? And just even asking those questions, I would get attacked, or I would have people unfriend me, or I would have people slander me and lie about me. I’ve been sober almost five years. I have people, just for asking these questions or having these conversations, say, “He started drinking again, he’s doing drugs.” People said that I joined a cult. It’s insane. It’s gaslighting.
So as a response to all these different attacks and stuff that I was feeling, I initially just decided to sort of write a script, and I was going to put a post on Facebook just basically saying: these are all the reasons why I’m walking away from liberalism and the Democratic Party. And it was mostly just supposed to be seen by my friends and people on social media, so that they would know once and for all how I felt and that, basically, if people wanted to leave my life, they could just do it. Now, you know—once and for all—how I feel. But after I wrote it, I read it to a couple of friends of mine, and they said there’s something here, this is a really, really powerful message, and people need to hear it.
I think it was suggested that I turn it into a video, and then it was just going to be a video. After we shot the video—myself and a couple of friends of mine—I looked at it and that’s when I was like, there’s something much, much bigger here. I think there’s something bigger at play, because I know I’m not the only person who’s feeling this way. I think people are just waiting for somebody to say it. I think the majority of people feel this way, but it’s a lot of pressure. And it’s scary, I think, for a lot of people, to just simply state the truth about how they’re feeling, because if you do, you’ll be labeled a racist. You’ll be labeled a bigot. You could have financial or career opportunities put in danger.
Look what I went through. You’ll have people unfriend you. You’ll have people slander you, and say all these terrible things about you. I had gotten to the point where I said to hell with it, I’m going to say it anyway. But I thought if I put this out and I encourage other people to make videos—if we band together and kind of create a network … of support, then I think we could actually make a big dent and make an impact in changing the culture and reversing this stranglehold that liberals have on what the narrative is in this country. That’s why I made the video, made the campaign, and encourage other people to make their videos. And [then] I saw Chris’s video, which was one of the first ones—I think you did it within the first month.
Mr. Wright: Yeah. June 25.
Mr. Straka: Boom! And the campaign started on May 26. I remember seeing it actually the day that he put it out and I was so excited. Not only because it was a great video—it was an amazing video. And I was really touched when I saw it, but also because I was like, yes! Finally, we’re starting.
Mr. Jekielek: Something’s beginning here.
Mr. Straka: It was indicating to me that there is a wide spectrum of voices that we’re starting to hear because at first, for the first week or two, I had to kind of beg people—please make a video, please make a video. And they started trickling in. But to be honest, it was mostly white people, which is fine, but it was mostly just white people telling their stories. But then, we started to see black people, we started see Hispanic people, we started to see gay people, Jewish people. And that’s what I really wanted this to be, really breaking the chains of these different minority groups that the Democratic Party has a stranglehold on. So that’s what we started to see about a month into the campaign or so. And I thought that Chris’s video was just amazing.
Mr. Wright: Thank you, Brandon. I appreciate it.
Mr. Straka: You’re welcome.
Mr. Jekielek: And so it seems like there’s this very strong—can we call it political correctness? There’s this pressure that you’re talking about. If you say certain things, you know there’s going to be a social backlash. You may lose social standing, you may lose your job, or job opportunities, or something like that. Is that the only thing that’s stopping folks? That’s a big deal, right? How do you guys see that?*
Mr. Wright: I see it as it’s reality. … I started a small group called CRA: Conservative Republican Alliance. And we get people together and socialize. And the main reason I did that is because people were reaching out to me saying, “Hey, I see your video. Hey, I’m in the Bronx or I’m in Harlem or …” You know, different areas of New York saying, “I’m conservative. What’s going on? What are you doing?”
I didn’t know what to do. I’m just making videos. I didn’t think anything of this. So I just said, you know, “Let me start something so I can get people together and we can socialize.” And what really helped a lot of people out is because black people want to speak and they want to talk and all that. But they can’t because—and they’ve told me this—if my job finds this out or somebody, oh, I’m done, I’m done. And some of these are people with good-paying jobs and working in the city. So it really is a lot that they perhaps could lose on this. And some people are in the LGBTQ community, and they’re going to lose all their social life if it gets out. So they’re just like, “I would have no social life,” and in New York City, of all places. So people have real issues and real problems with coming out with their conservative ways of believing or just walking away in general. So it’s a real thing.
Mr. Morchy: You know, I think it’s actually a very sad reflection on society, because it’s never been like this before. People had differences of opinion in the past. Some people voted for Republicans, some people voted for Democrats. You could be friends with these people. You could have nice conversations with them; it was a non-issue. And then suddenly Donald Trump comes along, and he’s like Satan, he’s like the devil. I don’t know. It’s so strange. … This is unprecedented, a time like this, when people are so afraid just to speak their opinions for fear of being lashed out at and ostracized, alienated, being cut off from friends and family. It’s insane. I guess it just goes to show how increasingly divided we have become as a country. … I think it’s very sad.
Mr. Straka: I just want to touch on that, too, because I feel first of all, what I think the Left has done at this point is weaponize racism, bigotry, things like that, things that actually are real things, that really did happen. Homophobia is a thing that does exist in the world, and in our past, in this country, it was a prevalent problem. Racism was a prevalent problem, which is not to say that it’s not a problem at all [today], but racism today is not what it was 50, 60, 70-plus years ago. But what they’ve done, I think, is take the social construct that we have, that to be a racist, or to be a bigot, or to be a homophobe is obviously not something that society looks upon in a friendly way. So if you disagree with anything that they have to say, they will label you that, knowing that you basically are now bearing a scarlet letter, and it’s designed to shut you down, so that their point of view is the only point of view that anyone can ever hear.
There’s also the point of view that most liberals tend to be younger people, and as people get older, and they start to work and really get into the workforce and see how the economy works and learn about earning potential and planning for their retirement, and see how that economic structure works in their own life, they fall away from liberalism. They start to see that conservatism isn’t such a bad thing: I get to keep my own money. I get to be in charge of my own fate and my own destiny.
But I think once people get to that point, their careers and their jobs become an important part, and they don’t want to put those things in jeopardy. They don’t want to put their job at risk or their financial stability or security. Whereas, younger people don’t have that risk as much. They’re not deep into a career. … They can say more—they have more freedom to say what they want to say. And I think they misuse that freedom to malign conservatives.
Mr. Jekielek: Are you trying to target young people with #WalkAway?
Mr. Straka: Absolutely, we’re trying to target young people, and there’s a number of mechanisms we’re using to do that. We’re going to be talking on college campuses, which we’ve already done, and we’ll be doing more of. We’re doing an educational video series, which is sort of geared toward younger people, and all people, but with an emphasis on really capturing the interests.
Mr. Jekielek: Brandon, with respect to targeting, are you talking about how you want to reach people and say, “Hey, it’s OK to talk about things publicly, to publicly say you support President Trump or you support a conservative viewpoint,” or is it to actually convince people over to more of that viewpoint?
Mr. Straka: In my opinion, it’s more the latter than the former. Both are necessary to say that it’s OK, but there absolutely has to be more speaking-up on the conservative side and a re-education of sorts. Because if you simply left it at, “It’s OK to be a conservative, or it’s OK to support Trump,” in the mind of a liberal, in the mind of a Democrat, what you’re saying is, “It’s OK to be a Nazi. It’s okay to be a racist. It’s OK to be a homophobe.” Because that’s what they believe. They believe that there’s something morally deficient about anybody who could support Donald Trump or anybody who could be a Republican.
So, the first step has to be a re-education of sorts and saying, “Listen, you’ve been lied to by the liberal media. You’ve been lied to by the ideology of liberalism. This is what it actually means to be a conservative. This is what we actually stand for. And first and foremost, these policies that we support are good for all people. We want black people to thrive. We want Hispanic people to thrive. We want LGBT people to thrive. America can only be at its best when everybody is doing well. We want everybody to do well.” So … learn what conservatism actually is. And then secondly, it’s okay to be a conservative. In fact, it’s great, and we feel like it’s the only way.
Mr. Morchy: I totally agree with Brandon. Actually, the Left has distorted the whole idea of what it means to be conservative.
Mr. Jekielek: They’ve almost made it a bad word, right?
Mr. Morchy: Absolutely. It’s strange because all it is, is just respect for the individual, saying that there should be equality of opportunity, that everybody should be able to succeed in life by virtue of hard work, integrity—just basic, traditional values of what America has always been about.
Mr. Wright: Very true. I tell people all the time, when it comes to conservatism, the first time I ever heard about it was when I was a cable guy in Georgia for five years for Comcast. I was working on a guy’s service, and he was like the stereotypical old, white redneck, you know. … He had straggly hair … Budweiser cans, the Confederate flags. … When I walked in, I was like, “Oh boy, where am I? What’s going on?” So, in my head, I said, let me just hurry up and do this service, get it knocked out, and get outta here. So when I started working, I realized that he really needed a lot of work done—a whole new line run, the whole nine.
So I started working really hard in the Georgia sun. And when I was sweating out there, he said, “Hey, let me get you something to eat, something to drink.” So we started talking, and when we started talking, we got into a really deep conversation. And it was pretty good. At the very end of our conversation, as I was walking back to my truck to go home, and he pulls me aside, and [says] like, can I show you a few questions? Sure. This is about three weeks after Obama got elected—his first term. He was like, “Who’d you vote for this last election?” And we kind of look at each other like, come on!
And he’s like: No, no, look, it’s OK. I totally understand. You know, first black president of the United States. Guess what? Hope he does a great job. You know why? Because if he does a great job, the country does great. And I said, “Wow, okay! All right!”
And he’s like, “Can I ask a few more questions and you can go about your day?” I said, sure. He said, “Do you believe in a small government?” I’m like, yes. “Do you believe in traditional family values?” Yes. “Do you believe in jobs, in a stronger economy?” Yes. “Keeping our military strong?” Yes. He asked me about 15 questions, and I was just like, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. What is he talking about? He’s like, “You know what that was?” And I said, “No, sir. What was that?”
He said, “Conservatism.” Think about that. “You’re young now, but when you get a little older, you might want to consider conservatism.”
Mr. Jekielek: Facinating. So your red-pilling started a little early.
Mr. Wright: Yeah, that was 2008, and I wish I remembered that gentleman’s name, but I still remember that conversation we had, because back then, even after he told me when I get older, he thinks I’m going to be more conservative. I looked at him back there like, yeah, right. No, I’m Obama all day: “Yes, we can,” yadda, yadda, yadda.
Mr. Straka: Red-pilling by a redneck.
Mr. Morchy: Yeah, turns out they’re not racist. And that’s the thing about conservatism, just basic conservative values. They say that your race, your gender, your whatever, your sexual orientation—none of these things should matter. It’s just about the individual. It’s about what you put into life is what you get out of it. And the Left has been telling us that all these things, our identities, are inherently holding us back, that we’re oppressed because we are black, we’re oppressed because we’re gay. And that is so contrary to reality, actually. And they like to say everything is institutional, and it’s really just a lie.
Mr. Straka: I actually feel like there needs to be an acknowledgement on the Left, too, well, maybe on both sides, perhaps, of where we actually are today. That’s a big part of it, too, because I think where some liberals get confused is this notion that we’re denying that there is such a thing as racism or ever was or [that there] is such a thing as homophobia or ever was. I was kind of on the fighting lines of equality for the LGBT community. I’m still an advocate of equality for all people, and I always will be.
But what I want to focus on is where we are in 2019, because if the goal all along was to fight for equality and to fight to get to a point where we get to participate fully in the American experience just like anybody else does, at this point, the only people oppressing the LGBT community are LGBT people, because the American experience is alive and well and open and available for anybody today. So if you feel like you don’t have the choice to vote Republican or vote conservative or be a part of this or be a part of that, the only person doing that to you at this point is you.
Mr. Wright: And if you look at it, the Democratic Party has always played identity politics throughout history. And if you look at what they’re doing now, they’re using groups like Black Lives Matter, the media, and other aspects [to say:] “Hey, these people are against you. Go get them. Go attack them.”
They’re still the same party, it’s just they’ve got a different strategy. I noticed that as well. The person who helped me notice that was Dinesh D’Souza, and he helped me because when he educated me on the history of both parties through the movie, “Hillary’s America,” I was like, wow! This guy has no dog in the fight. This guy is a legal immigrant who came here from another country, so he’s as unbiased as you can get. He’s just telling you this is the history of your country. And when he did that—wow! Why didn’t I learn this … in school? Why didn’t the media tell me? And you see the bias going on still that brainwashed me and my parents’ generation and grandparents’ generation. And it’s just a game that they’ve been playing with the American people.
Mr. Straka: Something I think is really horrifying about it, too, is that they actually are creating racists, and I think that they’re creating homophobes. I think that they are creating all of these things that they claim to be fighting against and that they’re so against. With what Chris was saying about demonizing white men, which, right now, I think is really their primary target—on the one hand, the messaging from the Left seems to be that the greatest enemy to America right now is straight white men. And their other message is: We are going to make it a goal to make white people a minority, and to try to “brown America” or however it is that they phrase it.
Think about that for a second. If you’re a white man in America today who’s not a racist, who doesn’t have any issues, who doesn’t even spend much time thinking about people of other races, but you’re constantly getting these messages [that] we hate you and we are determined to make you a minority in this country … of course, you’re going to become paranoid and defensive, and you’re going to start strategically thinking of ways to protect yourself. They’re actually going to create racists out of people who were never racist to begin with.
Mr. Jekielek: Daniel, the other thing that you told me about that you’re very concerned about is this increase in anti-Semitism, right? First of all, one of the things we heard early on when Trump was a candidate, was that he was anti-Semitic, even that he’s Hitler, as you said, and so forth. Yet, you were telling me a very different story.
Mr. Morchy: Yes, the Left has been trying to paint Trump as anti-Semitic for awhile. I mean, his own daughter converted to Orthodox Judaism. She’s more religious than I am. And she has Orthodox children, so he’s got Orthodox grandchildren. His record on Israel has been the best of any president, certainly in the last 30 years. And he has demonstrated consistently that he is not anti-Semitic. It’s such a joke that they even say that. Actually, though, I have seen, and this is another one of the reasons why I walked away, is that the Democrat Party has—I wouldn’t say openly embraced anti-Semitism, but they have not been very critical of it within their party. Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have said horrendously anti-Semitic things, and all I see from the Democrats is that criticizing them for things that they themselves said is inciting violence against them [and that] is Islamophobic.
Let me make it clear that this is not even about Muslims or anything, but it just so happens that within the party right now, there happen to be some freshmen representatives that are Muslim, and they are very anti-Semitic, and the Democrats are not addressing it adequately, in my opinion. It’s getting worse, and it’s unacceptable. That is just one of the reasons—only one of the many reasons—why I walked away.
Mr. Straka: This is where, I feel, too, this whole ideology that they have of the demonization of whiteness—[which] they’re so concerned about hating white people— that they ended up just celebrating anything that anybody who’s a non-Caucasian says or does without even really listening or paying attention to what’s happening. It’s like Daniel said, there are some very dangerous messages that are coming from some of these people who happen to not be Caucasian, but because they’re not Caucasian, it’s great—diversity. [Democrats say] this is our strength. Great. Let’s celebrate. This is wonderful. Actually, there’s some really dangerous messaging that we’re starting to hear. Let’s address it. Let’s pay attention to it.
Mr. Morchy: If you address the things that people who happen to be non-white are saying, it’s like, “Oh, you’re just hitting on a brown woman.” It’s always about identity politics. It’s never about the context of what they’re saying. And that’s the problem.
Mr. Wright: You’ve even got the people like Linda Sarsour saying crazy things about the Jewish community. And if you’ve looked at even the woman’s movement that the head of the Left had, with the hats and everything they had and all that good stuff, they were inviting people like Linda Sarsour to come up there and speak, and they won’t even let women who are conservatives just come in there as guests and be there just as support to share the womanhood, or women’s rights. They wouldn’t even let them in. So are you really about equality and women’s rights when there’s a group of women that you won’t even let come to your rally? So what’s your true message?
Mr. Morchy: They claim to be for all LGBT people. They claim to be for all women, but that you have to be the right woman or the right LGBT person. In other words, you have to agree with them. And as soon as you disagree, then they’re not for you.
Mr. Straka: And look at how they respond to me or how much they actually hate me. I’ve been denied every time that we’ve reached out to CNN to just have a discussion or a comment. Every time we’ve reached out to MSNBC, they won’t even talk to me. They won’t even acknowledge that I actually exist. Now, these are the people that claim they support equality for LGBT people and that they support lifting this community up. What is more equal than being at a point where an LGBT person has the full American experience and the choice to say, “I’m going to be a Democrat or I’m going to be a Republican, or anywhere in between on the spectrum that I choose based off of my own homework, my own research, and how I feel about the issues.” But they don’t want that.
They want people to believe, particularly LGBT people right now, that they only can fit inside of this little bubble in the Democratic Party. So there’s no celebration of diversity, and there’s no appreciation for someone like me who is providing an alternative point of view, and in a very public way. They won’t even talk to me or acknowledge my existence.
Mr. Jekielek: I remember you had a forum some months ago, and the venue canceled at the last minute.
Mr. Straka: Right. We held the first-ever LGBT town hall here in New York City, the first of many. We’ve already had another one in Los Angeles. We’ll be doing more and more across the country between now and 2020 and beyond. But we actually thought that it would be a really beautiful and meaningful thing to do it at the LGBT Center, because right here in New York, that’s sort of like the epicenter of things that go on within this community.
We didn’t necessarily think that this would be something that everybody would rejoice [about] and celebrate. But we thought, what better venue in the world to bring LGBT people together to have this open discussion, dialogue, and debate about politics and where we fit into the political spectrum here in America. Initially, the LGBT Center agreed to let us have our event at their venue. We filled out the application. We told them who we were, we told them what our intentions were, we signed the contracts, we paid for the venue.
And then, suddenly, when the media picked up on this event—the big [media], like Out magazine, Advocate magazine, these nationwide LGBT [media], the big guys in the media—and the LGBT world started putting these articles out, saying that we’re a hate group, that this is dangerous for the community. They were really sort of putting the center in this position to be like harm is going to come your way if you don’t put the kibosh on this event.
The next thing we knew, a petition was drawn up against us—we on the #WalkAway LGBT panel—and they actually compiled a dossier against all of us on the panel, digging through our social media, finding moments that they could label as racist, bigoted, hateful. One of our panelists is Blaire White, a transgender Trump supporter. And they actually found a picture of her on social media where she had applied a face mask, like, literally, a beauty treatment, a face mask. And they said, this is Blaire White in blackface.
But they succeeded. They got hundreds of people to sign the petition. They managed to successfully slander us in the media. And then the LGBT Center canceled our event in a public way. They didn’t contact me to say, hey, things are getting dicey. … I found out that my event was canceled days before the event in a public Twitter announcement, in which the LGBT Center said that they agreed with the findings of the petition and the dossier, that we were, in fact, a hate group, we were dangerous to the LGBT community, and they shut the event down.
Mr. Jekielek: Facinating. It keeps coming back to the media having a lot of power in this society, it seems, right?
Mr. Straka: All the power.
Mr. Wright: With #WalkAway, when it started getting a lot of popularity, they said we were Russian bots. … I had a shirt that said, “I’m not the Russian bot you’re looking for.” It’s so funny because people were tagging me on social media because their friends and family were saying, no, that #WalkAway stuff you’re talking about, that’s all Russian bots, here’s the article. So they would tag me, and say, “Hey Chris, tell my aunt or whatever that you’re not a Russian bot or whatever.” I’m like, “I’m not a Russian bot. Hey, how are you doing?”
Mr. Straka: They said that to me. I’ve had people come up to me and say, “You know, that was started by Russians, right?”
Mr. Jekielek: It’s amazing, isn’t it?
Mr. Straka: It just goes to show you the absolute control. It’s like brainwashing levels of control that the media has over people. And this is a video that I do in this upcoming series that we have up, “The Hard Truth.” My video is about liberal media bias. One of the things I say in this video is that they know that if they can control the way you feel, then they can control the way that you think. So that’s what they’re doing. They’re manipulating people’s emotions on a daily basis.
Frankly, they’ve gone so overboard that I think they’re making once-sane people crazy. Telling people that Donald Trump is separating children from their parents at the border and putting children in cages and stuff. Well, of course, it’s going to make people insane. Cher! The other day, [Cher] put out a tweet saying that.
Let’s dial back. Donald Trump was the first Republican president to put out a message about Pride Month for celebrating the accomplishments of LGBT people in this country and acknowledging pride month and the contributions of LGBT people, which is an amazing thing. That in itself is incredible progress now, and [that] a Republican president would be making a comment like this.
Cher goes on Twitter a day or two later, retweets the president’s comment and says, essentially: Don’t be fooled. He’s just giving you lip service at this point for LGBT votes in 2020 (and I’m not making this up), and then he’s going to put you in internment camps.
Mr. Morchy: That’s the worst kind of rhetoric.
Mr. Straka: That’s what Cher—gay icon—is telling the gay community. You will be in internment camps after the 2020 election.
Apparently, he’s [Trump’s] pulling the wool over all of our eyes right now by lowering our taxes, raising our paychecks, giving us jobs, building a strong economy and a strong country. … The real goal is to throw us in internment camps in 2020. Thanks, Cher.
Mr. Jekielek: So how much do you guys think this is the reason it’s very hard for you to come on a show like this on another media? Because it’s a chink in the narrative? That’s what’s jumping out at me right now.
Mr. Wright: There are two [kinds of] people on the Left that I encounter: There are people who … if we get to the topic of politics, when I tell them how I feel—I give them the truth—they just double down on the anger and the ignorance and they just [react with], no, no, no, you don’t have to talk about … you know, CNN. …
I can’t do anything with them. And there are people, when I speak with them, they listen to what I have to say, and then they ask me questions like, what made you decide to support Trump, and what policies has he done that helped you? When they talk with me like that, I’m always willing to talk with them and keep on going with them. Because that’s like we talked about earlier—to red-pill somebody, because they’re curious. And when they’re curious and they have questions, you can answer their questions and give them facts and evidence. They’re like, wow! OK! All right! That makes sense. And they might consider walking away themselves. So those are the people that I feel are the #WalkAwayers, the ones that are willing to at least listen and even have a few questions. Those are the ones you can talk with.
Mr. Straka: In terms of your question about why it’s hard for the media to talk to us, and what is the reason for them avoiding people like us, it’s because … for so long, they took for granted that this sort of narrative and system that they put into place would always succeed and that they’d always be able to manipulate people, and they’d always be able to control people with the same strategies and tactics they always use. And when Donald Trump got elected … it’s like the entire system went “zzzz,” and everything just short-wired, completely. On election night, we saw the footage of all of those different news anchors—Rachel Maddow looking like a deer [stunned] in the headlights, and all of those people looking like they had just stuck their finger in a [light] socket.
I think they realized [something] that night for the first time. They weren’t crying because Donald Trump got elected president. They were crying because they realized that they do not control the American people the way they thought they did, that the American people have minds of their own, and that the system that has been in place for so long is no longer going to work. So I think at this point, they don’t even know yet what to do about it. They’re still trying to scramble and gain control once again of the behaviors and the thoughts of people. People like us make that impossible for them, because we’re actually calling out exactly what it is that they are doing and have been doing for a long time.
Mr. Morchy: And that’s why CNN is not going to interview you because they know that you have power and that what you’re doing is succeeding, and they’re afraid of you.
Mr. Jekielek: We’re going to have to wrap up very shortly, but what I do want to get is a bit more information: Brandon, about your video series; Chris, a little bit about your channel, because I know you have a growing YouTube channel; and Daniel, a little bit about what’s happening next? So let’s start with Chris.
Mr. Wright: I’ve got a YouTube channel for those out there that want to check out some more of my videos where I do what I call “walk-and-talks,” which was built off #WalkAway, where I just walk through different parts of New York, and I talk weekly pocket-politics and what’s going on. So you can find me there at Conservative in New York. That’s just NY, not spelled out New York. So that’s my main [channel]. I’ve got my Web page, www.christopherwrightnyc.com. I got the Conservative Republican Alliance group, my Facebook page, “Wright is Right.” And that’s my last name, Wright (with a W) is Right. If you reach out to me, especially if you’re in the New York area, I’ll love to hear from you, and maybe I can get you to come to our social events that we’re always having.
I started a podcast with two young ladies in Harlem, as a matter of fact, they’re both on the left and they’re both Democrats, and I’m the conservative. We just talk politics, and we’re showing people that you can be on either side and have friends or family, that if they are [on different sides], you can talk and have a conversation, and you can still be friends or family afterward. You don’t have to break things up. And, like these two gentlemen, I just want to say that the important message is to show people we’re all Americans at the end of the day.
I’m just trying to get conservatism out in New York the best way I possibly can and then let people out there who I call closet conservatives, let them know … you can come out, you can speak, you can let your voice be heard. We’ve got an arena for you. So, hopefully, when 2020 comes, I want to have kind of a coalition, in a way, of people that are willing to fight for the truth when it comes to politics and conservatism.
Mr. Jekielek: And what about people that just want to know more? They’re not quite sure yet. You’re sounding interesting.
Mr. Wright: I think my YouTube channel is probably the best for that. You can see my videos because I talk on a lot of different topics on my channel, so people can scan through and say: ” Wow, OK, this is kind of like me, let me hear what he says about this. Let me hear what he says about that subject,” and you can get an idea from there because like I said, those are the people that I find on the fence. They’ve got something on their mind like: I heard Trump hates Mexicans. Then they see my video about border control, and I break it down, and he didn’t say anything by hating Mexicans. He says he doesn’t want illegal immigrants here. And that’s the problem we’re having, not anything to do with Mexicans. And most illegal immigrants aren’t even from Mexico. They’re from Honduras and places more south than Mexico, if you look at it. So just check the videos out if you can to see what I have to say.
Mr. Jekielek: What about Daniel, what’s next for you?
Mr. Morchy: Well, aside from spreading the word on #WalkAway and continuing my involvement with that, I’m actually going to be having a video podcast, a show of my own. It’s currently in the works. It’s going to be a similar concept to “The View,” but much better implemented. It’s not going to be so one-sided like “The View,” but it can be a little more serious, a little more intellectually minded. But the idea behind it is there’s going to be about four to five hosts discussing different topics of the day: politics, social issues. And the goal is really to have open dialogue, share different perspectives, have people really just listen to each other—going back to what I was saying earlier about how we’ve sort of lost that in this country. The people who think differently from us, who disagree with us, we automatically just cut them out. We don’t even listen to them. I want to change that.
Mr. Jekielek: Create some dialogue.
Mr. Morchy: Exactly. Open dialogue of people who don’t … [agree]. And the goal is not even to convince the other, to win the argument. I just want to have a place where people with completely different views can talk just about stuff. That is what I’m currently working on. I’m hoping that it’ll encourage people to step out of their bubble and not silo themselves, to get their news from other sources and be more critical.
Mr. Jekielek: That’s a great message, and we’ll look for that show.
Mr. Jekielek: [To Mr. Straka] Tell me a bit about this educational video series that you’re running.
Mr. Straka: I am very excited about this. We’re about to release what #WalkAway is calling “The Hard Truth,” which is our educational video series. Each video is going to be about five minutes long, with one speaker speaking on a topic. They’re beautifully shot with animation and supplementary graphics, things like that. So they’re very interesting and visually stimulating. And we have five of them already shot that we’ll be releasing soon. Our goal is to release 25 to 30-plus between now and the coming election. The first five that we’ve already shot are on the topics of socialism, liberal media bias, voter registration and activism, racism and segregation, and anti-Semitism. Daniel did a video for us about anti-Semitism. We have Scott Pressler, who did our video about voter registration and activism. I would just like to give a shout-out to Scott, because I do think he’s the hardest working activist in the country, and he’s an amazing guy.
[A shout out also to] Tracy Beanz, who is an incredible investigative journalist, and everyone should be following her on Twitter if they’re not. She did a video about socialism that’s really, really incredible. Zach Hing, who is another #WalkAway that I discovered through the campaign, did the video on racism and segregation, and he’s just a great guy, and like Chris, I think kind of launched a little bit because of #WalkAway and the #WalkAway video, but then has gone on to do incredible things on his own. Of course, I’m incredibly bitter and resentful, because he probably has a bigger following than I do [he laughs].
I’m really excited about these because I think that they’re going to connect with people, particularly young people. We have such a broad diversity of people who are delivering these messages. That’s what it’s all about, I think, at the end of the day. It’s like I said, sort of re-educating people, but also showing that there are black conservatives, there are brown conservatives, there are Asian conservatives, there are LGBT conservatives, and there are straight white conservatives, and we love them too, by the way.
So it’s really about bringing together Americans, unifying people, and saying, we’re doing so well right now. The country is actually in a very good place, and we actually believe we do have a president in office who’s very competent, and he’s doing an amazing job. Why shouldn’t we be unified? Why shouldn’t we be together at this time?
Mr. Jekielek: A powerful place to end: one year of #WalkAway. Brandon, Daniel, Chris, thank you so much for being here. We look forward to seeing what things develop in the future.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.