There's currently a new supposed movement going on that you may see mentions of on social media. The #WalkAway Movement, in which people are telling their stories of walking away from the Democratic party. How they finally saw the light regarding how they could no longer support the Democratic party and are in general moving to more conservative options. And according to some, there is excitement that this is going viral and indicating a mass exodus from the Democratic party.
And I do not doubt that there are people that are doing so. I can definitely see the individuals that are telling their stories of moving away from liberalism, as they describe it, into a conservative mindset.
But when you start talking about going viral and it being a large movement, I have questions.
It seems that some at the Washington Post do as well.
The problem with measuring something going viral is that you are just counting each use of the hashtag. And there are existing hardline conservatives using the hashtag. There are news organizations analyzing the use of the hashtag. There are bots using the hashtag - if you see third parties sharing someone else's update in a way that cannot link to the original person or if you see an account that seems to be just created for the #WalkAway tag, be wary. There are a lot of sources driving up use of the tag that do not involve an actual person moving away from the Democratic party.
Like me. I'm using the #WalkAway hashtag to describe how I've walked away from the Republican party. Or to paraphrase a quote from Ronald Reagan, "I didn't leave the Republican party, the Republican party left me."
I have a interesting political background. I can remember that while I was very young, my family was most involved with the Democratic party in the 1980s and early 1990s. However, that time was also part of the shift from Democrat to Republican. From Southern yellow-dog Democrat to the "New" Republican party.
The Republican party was cementing itself as the Moral Majority. They were the party that sought to hold America up to its principles and to its moral center. I remember the moral outrage at the Clintons during his two terms. How that drew conservatives to George W. Bush and his pre-9/11 push for civics and morality education. "Compassionate Conservatism."
And I was fully wrapped up in the Republican Party and conservatism at that time. I voted for George W. Bush twice. I voted for McCain and Romney. In lower elections, I voted Republican as well.
Something started changing during Barack Obama's two terms as president. I could not take the vitriol, the hate, and often outright lies that were shared and fully believed about him and his presidency. You could say that social media played a large part of my growing dissatisfaction as it made all of this misinformation and grumbling very, very visible on a daily basis.
By the 2016 primary season, I had reached my tipping point. The candidate field for the Republican party was very weak, in my opinion. And while I would not have been very excited, I could have supported a Jeb Bush candidacy. But as things continued and progressed on to finally Donald Trump, I was fully disillusioned.
Trump seemed to represent the antithesis of everything the Republican party I knew stood for. In many ways, I see a lot of comparison between Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. Both known womanizers. Both in many ways populist candidates. And yet, somehow, Bill Clinton was to be opposed at all costs, but Donald Trump was embraced and hailed. I couldn't handle the dissonance. And I have yet to be shown anything different.
I especially got fed up with the perverse entwining of Evangelicals with the Republican party, particularly in the 2016 primary season and beyond. To have pastors outright state you have to vote Republican to be a good Christian was shocking and repulsive. And to see those pastors like Robert Jeffress continue to rise in prominence when he makes statements like "I believe any Christian who would sit at home and not vote for the Republican nominee...that person is being motivated by pride rather than principle...". Even Franklin Graham more recently with "Christians should be aware of candidates who call themselves progressive. Progressive is generally just a code word for someone who leans toward socialsim, who does not believe in God & who will likely vote against Godly principles that are so important to our nation."
Part of it, too, was the combination of world travel and just becoming a parent. I became more liberal as I became a parent. I wanted a better world for my children and did not see that in the Republican party platform. I started to question why we could not solve universal health care and end medical bankruptcy (like every other major country in the world). I questioned why certain forms of discrimination are still acceptable. And I was not seeing answers to these questions in the Republican party.
I've moved on from the Republican party. I'm not fully Democrat, but definitely more in that direction. I voted for Hilary in 2016. For the rest of the ballot, I voted all over the map: Green, Libertarian, Democratic, Republican. I'm going to vote for Beto in November. I don't know who I will vote for in 2020, but it will not be Donald Trump. I cannot do that.
I write all this not to change anyone's mind, but to point out one fact. There are a lot of us walking away from both sides. Politics and political sides are changing in a lot of ways. So be careful when you believe something is trending.
Who knows what November will bring.