When actor James Woods tweeted out the hashtag “#WalkAway” in late June, even the alt-right missed the enormity of what lay beneath it. The Democratic Party had, in fact, struck an iceberg.
Some 5 million people on Facebook and YouTube have seen the video by now. A very handsome gay man, who you just assume is about to scold you on progressive talking points, instead says this:
“Once upon a time, I was a liberal. Well, to be honest, less than a year ago, I was still a liberal.
“I reject a system which allows an ambitious, misinformed and dogmatic mob to suppress free speech, create false narratives, and apathetically steamroll over the truth.”
And then this devastating line—the Rosa Parks moment of the video:
“I reject hate.”
If Democratic strategists were still able to watch the rest of the video without suffering a nervous breakdown, they’d see that it quickly got worse.
“These are the reasons why I became a liberal. And these are the same reasons why I am now walking away.”
Meet Brandon Straka, the unlikely liberator and new face of the “silent minority” of Americans who’ve been cast out by family and friends, fired from jobs, and forced into silent social ghettos for their failure to “get it” about how hateful and dangerous Donald Trump is, and why he and all his supporters should be subjected to an ever-expanding social and professional fatwah.
Since Straka published his confessional video on May 26, his life as a New York City hairdresser and aspiring actor has been overtaken by a tidal wave.
While speaking to The Epoch Times about the explosion of his #WalkAway campaign, Straka had to occasionally stop to go style a client’s hair, all while fielding a constant barrage of newcomers’ testimonial letters, videos, and emails—over 1,000 a day.
They gather at his two Facebook groups, “The Unsilent Minority” and “WalkAway Campaign.” Those who have the courage post their own video testimonials about the moment when the abuse, rage, and ugliness of the Democrats caused them to finally leave the party and “walk away.”
“This is so much more than a hashtag on Twitter,” he said. “This is a testimonial campaign, a grassroots movement that is going to change the political landscape of this country.”
And that’s the astonishing twist here: If these people have been driven into the arms of Donald Trump, who’s left on the left?
Those who are walking away are not Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables,” but rather, in many cases, lifelong Democrats who simply could not take it any longer and have longed for this very moment, when somebody like them would make it safe for them to come out of the closet and speak their minds.
From urban gay men to staunch liberal grandmothers, from a punk drag queen with black lips to a tattooed lesbian with a mohawk, those posting testimonials all had a breaking point, a moment when they decided to “walk away.”
Lea Anna Bright, in a mohawk, looks into the camera and says in a slow, simmering voice: “This is a Vice article I am reading right now. It says, ‘The activist left doesn’t give a [expletive] about your calls for civility. Get ready for a summer of rage.’” She looks up. “This is where the party is going, and this is why I chose to walk away. Peace. Not for me. Bye.”
A man adjusts his video camera and sits back. The walls behind him are a tasteful grey-blue. He’s a gay, affluent, native New Yorker, and he’s coming out of the second closet of his life. For Ricky Roberts, the moment came after the Orlando nightclub shootings.
“Trump said he was going to protect gay men, and he did, [with] the travel ban. Hillary was telling Americans not to ‘pick on all Muslims because of this,’” and that did not feel like protection, Roberts says. “I swear to God, wanted to throw my shoe through the TV.
“At that point I was like, I can’t do it anymore. I really can’t.
“You know, listen, I’m a gay guy from New York City, but before that, I’m an American, I’m a patriot. I’m now an uncle.”
His assessment of the Democrats: “From immigration to everything, they are just a disaster.
“They’re anti-American, anti-common sense, rational—anything good, they’re against it.”
Straka, who grew up in a small town in Nebraska, was on board with the fear and loathing campaign around Trump until he began asking people back home why they had voted for him. To his astonishment, they told him about Obama-era regulations that had crippled their small businesses.
He started to research media canards like the one about Trump supposedly mocking a disabled reporter. When he found that it was a total distortion, he kept going, his anger rising.
He eventually became “completely ‘red-pilled.'” And isolated. He told himself that he would have to give up his lifelong dream of becoming an actor if he hit the “publish” button on his video, but, encouraged by one conservative gay friend, he decided to go ahead.
“This was a matter of the media specifically using and manipulating people’s deepest fears, based on legitimate traumas,” he explained.
“Many gay people have experienced very serious homophobia and even physical violence. Can you imagine manipulating a domestic violence survivor’s fears just for political purposes? It’s insane.
“I was afraid of losing all my friends. As I began posting about these things on social media, people started attacking me and unfriending me.
“But I thought, ‘You know what, this is too important.’ Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a gay man and I’ve already been through this—people making up lies about what it means to be gay and trying to shame me. I was like, ‘I’m not doing it. I’m not doing this twice.’
“The more resentment I received, the stronger I got. Finally, I thought, ‘To hell with it. I’m just going to blow the lid off this whole thing and make this video.’”
The video has garnered 1.3 million views on his Facebook page and has been shared on many other popular pages. It is estimated to have reached some 5 million viewers so far.
There are some 27,000 followers of the Facebook group, with new people posting both video and text testimonials every day. Straka calls them “the patriots.”
“Initially, my focus was on the gay community because I was so angry at how they were [being terrorized],” Straka said. “Then I thought, why should I limit it to just us? They’re doing the same thing to black people. And Hispanic people. And frankly, they’re doing the same thing to everybody in one way or another.
“But it’s really the minorities in America who don’t feel like we have a choice. That’s what they keep telling us over and over: ‘You’re not safe on the right. They don’t want you on the right. They hate you on the right. You’re only safe with us. We are here to protect you.’
“Meanwhile, are you kidding me? You’re here to ‘protect’ me? All you are doing is use my fears to scare the [expletive] out of me—to terrify me and to try to manipulate the way that I vote.”
Libby Albert, one of the WalkAway Facebook group members, said “This is taking off,” citing the snowstorm of thousands of hashtags on Twitter. “It’s kind of incredible.”
Said another: “It’s kind of incredible. It’s OK. Walk away.”