WalkAway campaign

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The WalkAway campaign, also styled #WalkAway, was a social media campaign that launched ahead of the 2018 mid-term elections by former liberal Brandon Straka, a hairstylist and actor from New York City, in a video released 29th June 2018 entitled #WalkAway - Brandon Straka, "Why I Left The Democrat Party".[1]

The campaign's stated goal was to "[encourage] others to walk away from the "divisive" left, but also [take] back the narrative from the "liberal" media about what it means to be a conservative in America." As of November 2018 the video had over 400,000 views on YouTube and 1 million on Facebook.[2]

On 27th October 2018, Straka led a march of "several hundred" supporters of WalkAway along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.[3]

Competing news sources disagree over the extent to which WalkAway is an example of Astroturfing rather than a genuine grassroots movement. The conservative-leaning New York Post and Fox News websites both posted favourable coverage of WalkAway in the wake of the Washington rally.[4][5] President Donald Trump and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, both conservative politicians, have tweeted messages of support for Straka.[6][7] Other news sources claiming "viral" popularity for the campaign include far-right website Breitbart News.

In contrast, news outlets were critical of the campaign. David A. Love of CNN condemned the campaign as "pure propaganda, a psychological operation" and "connected to Kremlin-linked Russian bots",[8] a theory supported by the Alliance for Securing Democracy.[9] Abby Ohlheiser in The Washington Post claimed "There’s little actual evidence to suggest that #WalkAway represents a mass conversion of millions — or even thousands — of Democrats", and contrasted the broad appeal of true viral videos with the "Conservative Internet viral" nature of the WalkAway video.[2] ThinkProgress characterized the campaign as "a grifting operation," noting efforts by the organizers to sell dinner packages priced in the hundreds of dollars to march attendees.[10]

Slate journalist Mark Joseph Stern accused Straka of presenting photos, supposedly of people who had left the Democratic Party, which were actually royalty-free stock images from Shutterstock.[11] Straka has denied that any such material originated from the WalkAway campaign.[12]

As of November 3rd 2018, "walkaway" was the 3rd most tweeted hashtag by "600 monitored Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operations".

Brandon Straka[edit]

Brandon Straka was the campaign's founder. He grew up in Nebraska and now lives in New York City. Straka is gay.[13]

In an interview with I24NEWS (United States), Straka claimed not to identify with any political label other than "ex-liberal".[14]

In July 2018 Straka claimed to have been denied service at a camera store by a staff member who recognised him from Tucker Carlson's show on Fox News.[15][better source needed]

In September 2018 he claimed to have been suspended for 30 days from Facebook for posting a link to the InfoWars website run by the banned conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on whose radio show he was scheduled to appear.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ #WalkAway Campaign Official YouTube (2018-06-29), #WalkAway - Brandon Straka, "Why I left the Democrat Party", retrieved 2018-11-03
  2. ^ a b https://www.facebook.com/aohlheiser. "Analysis | The #WalkAway meme is what happens when everything is viral and nothing matters". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
  3. ^ "WalkAway March". walkawaymarch.com. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
  4. ^ "#Walkaway movement urges liberals to abandon Democrats". New York Post. 2018-10-27. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
  5. ^ "#WalkAway movement urges disgruntled Democrats to leave the party behind | Fox News". www.foxnews.com. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
  6. ^ "Donald J. Trump on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
  7. ^ "Sarah Palin on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
  8. ^ Love, David A. "Russian bots are using #WalkAway to try to wound Dems in midterms". CNN. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
  9. ^ "Hamilton 68: Tracking Putin's Propaganda Push... To America". Hamilton 68. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
  10. ^ https://thinkprogress.org/is-the-right-wing-walkaway-march-already-falling-apart-95dbce937e2a/
  11. ^ "These people who "walked away from the Democrats" are stock-photo models". Fast Company. 2018-07-24. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
  12. ^ "FACT CHECK: Did the #WalkAway Campaign Use Stock Photographs for People It Claimed Left the Democratic Party?". Snopes.com. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
  13. ^ "Unfiltered: 'The left practices tolerance in the most superficial ways'". Retrieved 2018-11-03.
  14. ^ i24NEWS (2018-07-05), 'Walkaway' Founder on Why Democrats No Longer Represent Him, retrieved 2018-11-03
  15. ^ McBride, Jessica (2018-07-05). "Brandon Straka of WalkAway Says He was Denied Service". Heavy.com. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
  16. ^ Gilmour, David (September 12, 2018). "Facebook suspends #WalkAway founder over InfoWars link". The Daily Dot. Retrieved February 14, 2019.