Dear Democracy: A Conversation With The Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It has been a historic week in this country and with it a roller coaster of emotions for many. But was it a surprise or what we expected? We set out to talk to Bay Area residents-- the general subject: Democracy.

It began with a seemingly simple question. "If you could write a letter to, or have a conversation with Democracy, what would you want to say?" We sent it out on social media and got some interesting responses.

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"Tired, anxious, hopeful," said one person.

"I'd ask democracy to please come back," said another.

"If the elections are free and fair, then the institution of democracy still functions," said Manny Yekutiew, who runs Manny's, a political epicenter in San Francisco's Mission District. "If the election is tampered with that is a different story. But if he wins fairly then the institution of democracy has done its job."

We drove hundreds of miles and spoke with countless Bay Area residents. We found that while no two people agree on a perfect system under democracy, we heard many versions of one element that everyone shares. In this nation, democracy is sacred.

"I believe democracy does work," said Sarah Nagle, who writes a Republican blog in Marin County. "I think at the moment people have forgotten that we're supposed to work together. It's become a winner-take-all scenario for some people. I think we have lost a sense of belief in America, right now. They're like people who are renovating a house and get bored and try to build something new instead of realizing you need to repaint it and do a lot of work."

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"You have to fight for it. It is a continuous exercise. It is a practice," said Lily Gangas. She is an immigrant from Bolivia and now, a force for Latinos in technology.

Gangas spent election day getting out the vote on Oakland streets.

"Right now, I think we have seen the potential if we don't take it for granted. But I think democracy is more alive than it has been before."

But people felt it has been tested this week. On Wednesday, after President Trump declared himself the rightful winner and asked for ballot counting to stop, the optimistic mood changed.

"I think democracy is fine but I don't have much faith in this country. I think they have lost it here," said Max Beagarie at a rally outside Oakland City Hall.

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"When he's not in power, I will call him a clown," said Ruth Minka.

"What is threatened is the right to vote, the right to assemble, freedom of speech, the right to have any kind of civil liberties," added Nicky Silver.

Moods improved by late afternoon as a Biden comeback began to materialize, but the rallies continued. By then, however, President Trump had filed legal challenges. A concession or resolution seemed distant, and Yeketiew, still cautious. The same man who told us on Monday that he trusts democracy now says this won't end for him until January 20th, Inauguration Day.

Yeketiew: "I am anxious. I am suspicious of this man."

Freedman: "Even now?"

Yeketiew: "Especially now."

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