When thousands upon thousands of citizens come together to celebrate the loved ones they have lost, traditional Mexican culture, the American version of traditional Mexican culture, Tucson, Arizona’s version of traditional Mexican/American culture, or just get out and dress up, party, and parade because it is fun, and it is peaceful and loving and beautiful, I have hope again.

In this time of embarrassingly ugly political campaigns and messaging and rhetoric, it was refreshing and invigorating to see so many peaceful Americans celebrating themselves and our country and our freedom. Amidst it all, there was one epitaph that was more sad than the lost babies, grandma’s, dogs and movie stars that were celebrated. The sign, carried by two women dressed as skeletons, read “American Democracy RIP.” No. I said.No it has not died.

This year’s election has disappointed so many. No matter what side you are on. I think most are not akin to the harsh, hateful language bolted at other humans across television screens and social media. Again and again I hear people say, never before. Never before have even the ugliest of campaigns grown quite this mean-spirited. Never before have candidates stirred this much animosity, or wait, has the media stirred this much animosity. Never before.

Then, as we approach and move beyond this 2016 awful election, I say, never again. Never again. If you have concerns and complaints, sorrows and confusions, charges and accusations, about, against, because of your government, then speak them. Speak them peacefully. Find help. Reach out. Help others. Move away from the television, the radio, and the screen, and talk to someone about it. Ask what you can do to make it better. Ask where you can go to find help. Don’t give up.Take your children with you.

Never again can we let our country get to the point where a competition for leadership becomes an embarrassing theatrical exhibit of behavior that goes against everything we have taught our children.Ashamed, embarrassed, frightened, we go to the polls. Confidence is not the word of the day.

Never again. Let’s take up the issues our candidates did not because they could not, or the ‘media” would not let them.Let’s begin the policy discussions our candidates did not.At our dinner tables, over coffee, at wine tastings, in the classroom, at the beauty shop, on road trips. Talk. Talk earnestly, kindly, smartly. Think critically but speak peacefully. Plan strategically, but express diplomatically. Let’s be the citizens, let’s live the citizenry, that we want from our candidates, defy media of all sorts, and rely upon our educations, our morals, our ethics. And let’s talk. Let’s talk for the next four years.

Let’s plan. Go to city council meetings. Write to county supervisors.Start local, and go global. We can be the change that this election hid from us.We can be the change.

Never again.

So as I have witnessed one million people gather to celebrate the loss of loved ones, in my head I celebrate the end of not doing enough. Take action and become the citizen for yourself your children your friends your family your neighbors your colleagues that you demanded of both opponents in this election, and saw in only one, or neither. Take action.

American Democracy is not dead.It just needs CPR.And that’s us.

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