Photo Courtesy of
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Brandon Straka attracts diverse crowd, allows for open conversation

November 10, 2019

On Nov. 7th The Minnesota Republic was excited to welcome Brandon Straka to The University of Minnesota, as a part of his #WalkAway Thought Revolution College Campus Tour.

Straka, a self-proclaimed former liberal and founder of The #WalkAway Campaign, grew up in a small town of Nebraska, that was not so accepting of his LGBTQ+ identity. Growing up, he thought his duty as a gay man was to vote blue – but in the wake of Donald Trump’s campaign, he had a serious mindshift that he felt needed to be heard.

In years past, many of the events hosted by The Minnesota Republic and its affiliated groups: Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow, Minnesota Students for Liberty, Young America’s Foundation and The College Republicans have been vehemently protested by groups such as Students for a Democratic Society, amongst others. In hosting Straka, the hope was to open up conversation by hosting someone who was a former Democrat himself – and the event did just that.

With high security in place thanks to University of Minnesota Police Dept., the event welcomed around 100 attendees, despite selling around 185 tickets – the assumption being that either the tickets were in silent protest, or with Thursday night’s bitter temperature of just over 18º, supporters didn’t want to make the polar trek. As the event went on, it became evident that thankfully no protests would appear, and UMPD was sent home.

Opening up the event, Straka gave some backstory on his political identity, “I was high school age at this time, being a liberal, so I wasn’t old enough yet to vote. But I certainly knew that when it came time to be voting age – [that is] exactly where I’d end up, and what I was supposed to do, as a minority-class person in this country. So of course when I turned 18 [and] became an adult, I automatically registered as a Democrat – voted Democrat straight down the ticket every time I went in to vote.”

Straka even noted that his vote sometimes came with ignorance – he did not necessarily study the beliefs of the individuals he was giving his vote to, rather he felt that he simply just had to vote blue because of his identity. This queued him in on the idea of intersectionality, and how it is a dangerous trend.

“With this mentality of intersectionality, gay men, or women who see themselves as a victim class, or racial minorities, feel that all of our issues and all of our oppression is woven together. I remember very distinctly being told by other liberals… there’s sort of this system of ‘I’ve got your back and you’ve got my back, you should vote for my issues, I should vote for your issues.'”

This ideal stopped resonating with Straka – and that is when he started deciphering the devil that is a highly liberal media. One of his many “coming to God” moments was when he had watched a video deciphering Trump’s mannerisms, and how the media took these and turned them against him – Straka noted.

Photo courtesy of Brandon Straka.

Of other sources reporting on Straka, they have noted that he had many moments where his mind shifted. One that was alluded to at Thursday’s event was his sobriety, which was previously contextualized by Tim Fitzsimons, writer for NBC News:

“At 38, he realized he had to get sober, and he did. Straka said he had his last drink on Jan. 18, 2015. ‘I didn’t know it at the time, but [getting sober] was very instrumental in my transition into conservatism. There really is no such thing as victimhood unless you choose to be a victim.'”

This stand-strong mentality is in heavy contrast of the mentalities that the Democrat party preys on, seeking out minority votes simply for the vote, and not for the pain behind it.

“We were going to vote in the first women to office or the second coming of Hitler – those were our two options. Now obviously, as someone who had pledged my complete allegiance to the Democrat party – and by the way I loved Hillary Clinton, I wanted her to be the candidate in 2008. I actually was upset when Barack Obama took the nomination.”

In deciphering the role of the media in the 2016 campaign trail, Straka noted the evident shift that took place prior to the primaries, which made him question the power of the media.

“The late night talk show hosts treated it like it was a joke – everybody thought it was really, really funny. There was no talk early on about racism, bigotry, this man being a monster, or a terrible person. Everyone though it was hysterical, which by the way, that in of itself should be the first indication to anybody that something is wrong. Because if in fact Donald Trump were the second coming of Hitler, would there ever be a point that that was funny? I mean if Hitler announced that he was running for president, would there ever be a moment where we’d be like ‘oh [haha] that Hitler.’ No – of course not,” said Straka.

But as many individuals noticed in 2016, the media took to demonizing Trump more aggressively as voting day neared.

“It only became this narrative when it became very crystal clear that Donald Trump was going to become the Republican nominee, and not only was Donald Trump going to become the Republican nominee, there was a very good chance that Hillary Clinton wasn’t as safe and secure in sliding into this role that she deserved, as everybody had once thought. At that moment I believed that the powers that control our media – I now see the media as a propaganda arm for the Democrat party.”

It only became this narrative when it became very crystal clear that Donald Trump was going to become the Republican nominee, and not only was Donald Trump going to become the Republican nominee…”

— Brandon Straka

In noticing these shifts, Straka hopped sides, something the media rarely reports on – especially if the epitome of the ‘token’ Democrat does it. A lot of Straka’s campaign encapsulates how the Democrats have been using minorities for an identity vote, but not treating them as promised.

The event concluded nearly an hour overtime, as Straka was focused on having conversations with the crowd as a whole – every individual got to either have a discussion with Straka or get photos taken. This was a unique opportunity for his fanbase, and a true-teller of Straka’s good intentions and charismatic character.

With this, I want to leave my readers with a few facts to ponder:

In Trump’s presidency, the United States has seen the lowest unemployment rate for minorities, but in Obama’s presidency, African American unemployment averaged 5.2 percent higher than the general population, and Hispanic unemployment averaged 1.9 percent higher. Accompanying this, Trump has pushed for prison reform, supporting The First Step Act and he has allocated $1.2 billion in funding to technical/vocational studies, which have a high utilization by minorities. And lastly, Trump took action to promote the growth of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and increased funding for various HBCU programs. I think it is important to note that this does not seem like the second coming of Hitler – rather someone who is concerned with the American people.

With those facts in mind, I must beg the question alongside Straka himself – are you ready to #WalkAway?

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