Getting Woke by
(309 Stories)

Prompted By Protests

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Getting Woke

My folks, and my uncles and aunts were always politically active and die-hard liberals ,  and as children my sister and I and our cousins were used to hearing political rhetoric around the dinner table.

Yet despite that red diaper babyhood,  I was seemingly apolitical and remained so well into my own adulthood .  I don’t know why,  perhaps as a reaction to my passionately political parents,  or because of my own non-aggressive personality,  or a desire to avoid confrontation at any cost?

When conversations turned to politics I would often clam up,  probably to the bewilderment of many friends,  and always to the annoyance of my husband.   He’s a news junkie,  is very opinionated,  and always ready for a political debate himself,  and so he’d call me a Pollyanna.  He’d tell me I was living in LaLaLand,  saw too much theatre,  read too many novels,  and obsessed over unimportant things like color schemes and redecorating the apartment.

And then suddenIy in 2008 in my 60s I awoke and I realized that getting Barack Obama elected was more important than staying in my comfort zone.    I went to Doylestown, PA  with my friend Toby to work for the Obama campaign and get out the Democratic vote.

On that electrifying election night Toby and I stayed on the phone together waiting for the returns, and when they were in we cheered over the wires,  taking full credit when Pennsylvania went Blue!

And now with another election looming in the midst of Covid,  and in the midst of the biggest fight of our lives,  we all know what we must do.   Put on your mask and go get out the vote.

– Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Barack Obama, Political Campaigns


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    I understand entirely, Dana. My mother was a committed liberal, but my father’s family were mostly Republicans (we never could get my dad to tell us how he voted in 1960; he became much more liberal as he aged). But no one was politically involved, so I was always a liberal, but not engaged until Obama came along and inspired.

    Our David took time off from grad school at Columbia to stay with my brother in Cincinnati and take people to polling places. We were at a party (all Democrats) as the returns came in. We cheered when Ohio went Blue and got a call from David, who was at a bar with the mayor of Cincinnati. We could hear the cheering in the background. We got home before the polls closed in CA so we could be on the phone with both our kids as the country elected Obama and we all cried tears of joy together.

    Obviously, Nov 8, 2016 was very different. Vicki was with a suicidal trans friend, tweeting out the numbers for the suicide prevention hotline. David texted us from London at 11:15pm (4:15am London time), telling us he loved us. It felt like the Apocalypse.

    We have to do all we can to insure a different outcome this November.

    • Yes Betsy our collective hearts sank that 2016 election night. I remember earlier that afternoon standing on line outside our neighborhood polling place waiting to vote, seeing a neighbor and the two of us jumping for joy in anticipation of the Hillary win, and then watching the returns later and hearing the impossible news.

      The next day I was on the crosstown bus and happened to catch the eye of a stranger sitting opposite me. We looked at each other and without a word we both opened our hands in disbelief and despair, and little did we know then how much worse it would get.

      I fervently hope Vicki’s friend was dissuaded that night.

  2. Marian says:

    Very relatable story, Dana, since I’m not a seriously political person. Like you, I did work for Obama, the first political activity I’d done in a long time. Yes, we must vote and encourage others to do so.

  3. Somehow comforting to see Obama’s poster and to read your story, Dee…there IS hope, lest we forget. Thanks for the reminder…I needed that.

  4. Suzy says:

    I well remember the joy of that 2008 election night, and the despair of 2016 – quite a contrast! I’m glad that Obama roused you from your political indifference. And you are so right, that this year we need to do whatever it takes to regain the White House AND the Senate, and hold on to the House. Your last sentence says it all!

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    Dana, it doesn’t matter when you decided you were woke. Obama’s election was so exciting and inspiring. For the first time, I felt like my voice really mattered. And now look where we are. So, yes, I’ll join you in putting on my mask and do the best I can to make this a better country.

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