Lyrah Panarigan; Honolulu, Hawai’i
My name is Lyrah Panarigan, and I am a young female conservative who supports President Trump.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2019, I briskly walked through the school halls to meet up with my friends before school started, styling a white bucket hat and an outfit to match (American colors of course, in honor of 9/11). However, it didn’t take too long for people to give me questionable glares, which led to my friends pressuring me into hiding my white bucket hat away because they thought I’d be attacked for offending someone who didn’t appreciate the phrase stitched on: “Make America Great Again.”
Although I knew beforehand about the misconceptions my peers would have about me wearing that hat, I still admitted defeat. My friends didn’t even know that it was 9/11 and actually forgot about the significance of the day until I reminded them about it. I broke down in tears, anguished in the hard truth that I couldn’t wear something that represented what I believed in, while most people could get a free-pass wearing clothing (such as promiscuous graphic tees, etc.) that would be considered offensive to me—a textbook conservative.
With the fact that the Republican Party holds the reputation of being the “silent majority,” I can only name a handful of close friends who hold the same political affiliation as me. Even so, most of those friends are closeted conservatives, in fear of losing face to others and being hated. I can’t blame them, for it wasn’t always like this, until the 2016 election and the shocking win of President Donald Trump. His victory inspired me to start becoming more invested in public affairs and issues, but it only took me until last year to muster up my courage and become vocal about my unpopular beliefs and opinions regarding politics. I’ve had my fair share of unfollows, unfriending and name-calling since I announced my support for President Trump and Vice President Michael Pence, the Second Amendment, choosing life instead of choice, and keeping “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance—among many other conservative causes.
Then begs the question, why Trump? Why conservatism? It’s a baffle for others who view me as an Asian minority and a young female who supports President Trump despite his (many) shortcomings. Although his track record is unlike presidents before his term, I believe that President Trump (along with Vice President Pence) was the shake-up that the United States needed and that he would support the beliefs that I hold to be important to me. My political views are in huge part because of my religious beliefs—Christianity—and I firmly believe that God is using President Trump. Although I can’t speak for his personal relationship with Jesus, he has been vocally supportive of what many Christians stand for, like supporting Israel (recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital) and pro-life causes (he is also the first president to physically attend the March for Life event). Many of those who work within his administration are also Christians—such as Vice President Pence and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Now more than ever, with the recent tragedies of COVID-19 and the injustices of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, many take to social media to participate in the outrage and uproar to ‘fix the corrupt, evil nation’ that is the United States. While I do agree that our nation is far from perfect, I disagree with the notion that the American people—more specifically people of color—are chained by oppression, and that the nation hasn’t changed from the days of our founding fathers. I won’t generalize our nation’s vast history full of triumphs (and losses alike)—freeing ourselves from tyranny, expanding our nation’s territories, abolishing slavery, setting the standard for other nations, advancing in technology and scientific discoveries—into a pessimistic view that majority of ‘woke’ Americans hold today.
Rather, I choose to view myself, a young female minority, as an American free from the chains of victim mentality. I choose to look at our Constitution and the Bill of Rights as pillars of light that our nation continues to strive towards and uphold.
“We the People” are three vital words that I feel as though Americans today have forgotten. To James Madison and the rest of the Constitutional Convention, the people who lived and breathed on this land were so important that they capitalized “People.” We dictate the direction our country takes. We the People have a choice, and it’s not if you are a Republican or a Democrat, Conservative or Liberal—it’s the choice to rise above and learn from our mistakes, or to dwell amongst them, together as one.
Growing up in Hawai’i, the melting pot of diversity and home of the aloha spirit, I’m blessed to say that I rarely experienced discrimination due to gender, race or religion. While it is a blue state, the people of Hawai’i have a general understanding of kindness and respect, even if the rare-find of conservatives here differ in views. I took it upon myself to help out with liberal causes as well—to better understand the other side of the political spectrum—such as helping organize a climate change protest and becoming a high school intern for a Democratic nominee for one of our state offices. Those experiences helped me to become open-minded with ideas that I don’t necessarily align (such as climate change, etc.), as well as meet educated individuals in their respective fields and learn about them.
As I prepare to jet off to college in the mainland, I understand that I will have to face those additional challenges of discrimination and the striking political divide and overcome them—especially with my different views and beliefs. As an aspiring journalist, I hope to restore the nation’s trust in the media and report the truth with integrity.
If there was anything I would’ve done differently on Sept. 11, 2019, I would have stood my ground and kept my MAGA hat on with pride. I would have encouraged a civic discussion about the hard topics, even if that meant I had to go through the criticism of being a Trump supporter. However, as a young female minority conservative, I’m forever proud to be an American, and I hope that my generation will help make America great again.