In the photograph, Bean Dashnea.
My maternal grandmother is from Okinawa, Japan. She is not an American citizen, nor does she speak good English. I remember being young and checking White/Caucasian on demographic surveys, and my mother telling me to check Asian instead. Why? Because she knew that as a minority, I had more potential opportunities for scholarships, internships, and jobs that suddenly felt the need to reach diversity quotas or think about their optics. I don't deny my Asian heritage by any means; it was incorporated into how I was raised, the television I watched, and the food I ate. But I thought my fair skin and hooded eyes made me white despite not having completely Caucasoid features. It's not essential, nor should it have changed the way I navigate the world, but now that the mixed-Asian population in the U.S. is increasing and the topic of race comes up so often, I can't shake it from being a central part of my identity whenever people are regularly reminding me of how "privileged " I am.
I don't remember ever becoming a liberal-socialist in high school. But somehow, it happened. In the most stereotypical sense, I did theater all four years. I prioritized my Tumblr aesthetic, and I watched Saturday Night Live religiously. (I also grew up on Buzzfeed. I blame the YouTube algorithm.) At one point in my freshman year of University, I was easily enthused by Trevor Noah, John Oliver, and Seth Meyers' political commentary. In the comments, people would write, "I can't believe we have to get our news from COMEDIANS!".
In contrast, I realize now that I was getting my news from comedians- unqualified, woke, and purposefully misleading comedians. They had painted Fox news to be like Nazi propaganda. They had painted Obama as a patron saint and painted women as victims living under a cruel American patriarchy. I look back now and wonder how stupid and ignorant I must have looked believing that stuff. It may have made me laugh at the then President, but it made me angry and fearful at the state of the world.
At some point in the middle of University, I was able to take a step back from my screen of ignorance just far enough to ask myself, "What do my political adversaries watch for laughs?". I knew that for someone as young and apolitical as myself, I couldn't possibly watch C-SPAN or even mainstream media because I wouldn't be able to recognize any prominent political figures or even care for any of the legislation. I did, however, turn to YouTube to discover right-wing comedy. Immediately, it was funnier and more accurate to my reality than what John Oliver and Trevor Noah were espousing. Lou Perez was the first to red-pill me. He was critical of the political left and right, which earned him my respect.
The plunge down the rabbit-hole was not long after. Suddenly, the algorithm had started suggesting more right-wing entertainment like Ben Shapiro's classic "Liberals DESTROYED with FACTS and LOGIC" videos and Steven Crowder's "Change My Mind. " Mind you; this was before the mass internet purge and censorship of conservative figures. I remember thinking that I now understood the need for a wall on the southern border. However, at this time, I still considered myself a Democrat. Although I realized that abortion was innately wrong, I wasn't ready to be labeled a "conservative." My acceptance of Donald Trump was probably the slowest change of all. Thankfully, I've switched my position on nearly every social and economic issue. It's just a good thing they didn't follow me into adulthood. Now, I walk with unremovable political goggles, unable to control my assumptions about people's schools of thought or who they voted for. Sometimes I wonder where I would today if I had never been "red-pilled."
My favorite and most transformative part of my WalkAway experience would have been discovering independent journalists; who, to this day, I trust and support. I had chosen street interviews as my primary form of entertainment, whether it was driving to work or putting on makeup in the morning. Before the pandemic, when protestors weren't as scared to gather in the streets, I could juggle between watching various reporters, journalists, and commentators like Elad Eliyahu, Fleccas, John Doyle, Avi Yemini, Jorge Ventura, Stephen Ponce, and more. Each of them had different issues they liked to focus on, like leftist extremist groups, Hong-Kong/China, or just the conservative cause. Somewhere in this transition, though, I was also juggling between a secular-libertarian and religious-conservative school of thought. Moral consistency is something I only started to think about in my 20's. I had to take a step back from both political echo-chambers, and even now, I wonder about my standing with the average, middle American.
Currently, I am VP of my local Young Republicans group and personally know dozens of politicians and political pundits. I have discovered how free I am and how easily my liberties can be stripped away in these past two years. I have also found that conservative and Republican circles are, by nature, much more tight-knit and better-networked than those on the left. I have been blessed with several opportunities and made wonderful friends who share my values. To this day, the majority of people I surround myself with are liberal democrats, but that's where I live, and frankly, there is solace in knowing that I used to think like them. I can understand to a degree where they're coming from. I wasn't raised a "right-winger, " but now I've got a position in the culture wars, and I can't possibly return to a party that has deceived me and regressed so significantly.
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About the Author:
Bean Dashnea is currently a student of foreign language and political science. She has lived between the U.S. and Europe for nearly 14 years but considers Texas home. After Bean changed her party registration from Democrat to Republican circa 2018, she immediately recognized the public discourse shift. She knew she was caught in the war on culture and information. Bean currently works with local Republican chapters and primarily advocates for smaller government and geopolitical awareness.