Walk Away Founder: ‘Russian Bot’ Claim Will Push People Away From Democratic Party

July 22, 2018 Last Updated: July 25, 2018

The founder of the “Walk Away” movement, which encourages ordinary Americans to upload videos and photos of themselves saying they have left the Democratic Party, said that the claims it is a “Russian bot” campaign are false.

“The recent attempts by left-wing media to invalidate the real testimonials, feelings, and experiences of the real people who have joined the #WalkAway Campaign is yet another desperate denial of the reality that the Democratic Party no longer has anything valuable to offer the American people,” Brandon Straka told The Epoch Times.

Several weeks ago, Straka’s own video went viral and has since been viewed several million times.

“Once upon a time, I was a liberal. Well, to be honest, less than a year ago, I was still a liberal,” Straka, a New York City hairdresser who now describes himself as a former liberal, says in the video.

“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.”

Since then, a Facebook page and Twitter hashtag for the movement have been created. Straka appeared on Fox News to implore liberals to walk away from the Democratic Party.

A CNN opinion article published by CNN last week says the Walk Away movement is being promoted by “Kremlin-linked Russian bots, and it is now the seventh most popular Russia-influenced hashtag as of this writing.” The article attempts to cast the movement as anything but a grassroots one, but it does not include any photos or testimonials from Americans. The article was shared heavily on social media, and numerous Twitter users repeated its narrative.

Straka explained that people are getting fed up after seeing “more stories of unhinged and uncivil behavior from those on the left and increasingly boundary-less behavior.”

Meanwhile, the Russian-bot narrative “will only prove to further push people who have had enough of the left away from liberalism and the Democratic Party.” The left is “now embracing the claptrap rationale that anybody opposed to their nonsensical agenda must be a foreign operative robot,” he said.

“The #WalkAway Campaign is growing daily with Americans of all types and from all walks of life who value tolerance, civility, kind and civil discourse, and an appreciation for the greatest values of America. We welcome all who are fed up with the dishonest liberal media and the infinitely angry climate of the left.”

On the movement’s Facebook group, members of the group echoed his sentiment, declaring they aren’t “Russian bots.”

“Native American tribal elder from Michigan. I walked away because I choose the kind road. I’m First Nation and positive I’m not a Russian bot. Lol. Blessings,” wrote one woman in the Facebook group.

A Facebook screenshot shows a man who “walked away” from the Democratic party, saying he’s not a Russian bot. (Facebook/screenshot)

Another member, Ted Jotte, posted a photo of himself with a statement saying: “I am so grateful to the founders of this #WalkAway Campaign, and all of the people who dared to come in here and share their reason and logic that prompted them to walkaway [sic] from the Democratic party. Many of the posts I see in here bravely highlight experiences about racism and bigotry in the Democratic party.

“Hey libs and all of you media propagandists. I am not a Russian bot.”

Straka, who is originally from Nebraska, said he was against Trump until he asked people in his hometown why they had voted for him. That led Straka to become “completely ‘red-pilled,’” a term inspired by the movie “The Matrix,” in which taking a red pill allows one to see reality unfiltered, while taking a blue pill keeps one trapped in a pleasing, synthetic view of life.

“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,” he told The Epoch Times in a previous interview. “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.’”