Like everyone else these days, it seems like I have accessed my inner outraged self. The news has been my enabler. BPI Campus has helped me frame and articulate my outrage. Let me give you a few examples. (More)

The petition to deport Piers Morgan outraged me. I was asking myself as I read about Morgan’s comments on gun safety, “But what about his First Amendment rights?” The BPI Squirrel spoke to my outrage and tied the First and Second Amendments into a nice rant.

That still left me outraged but ever so much more informed and articulate. Now when I speak with family and friends I can explain my thoughts in a way that informs them and is way better than “WTF is wrong with these people!” One conversation at a time, I can build bridges from free range outrage to understanding our constitutional rights to a more civil discourse.

Before the nation basically bifurcated, the mainstream media used to perform some of this job of educating and informing us. Now the MSM just feeds the splits and I have become dependent on our Squirrel to perform their job.

The next example is that of court employees refusing to issue marriage licenses to LBGT couples in states where their unions are legal.

A conservative legal group are advising court clerks on how to not issue marriage licenses to LGBT couples. They call it “religious freedom.” It’s really about whether personal opinion overrides public law.

Doesn’t that introduction just so clearly state the whole argument? It allowed me to ask an acquaintance “Do you think everyone’s personal opinion should trump the law?” The BPI Squirrel is once again feeding the civil discourse. The Squirrel deserves a lifetime supply of macadamias by way of my thanks.

BPI Campus and the Squirrel have also helped me see privilege and how it plays in the Media and in politics.

There’s a fine line between self-actualization and ego-centrism. Declaring publicly that you will speak and act as you deem fit, because you pay $40,000 a year to be in college, flashes EGO in neon lights.

The Squirrel has unpacked a list of privileges so that those of us who have experienced one of more kinds of privilege can see ourselves with our defenses lowered. My outrage against privilege has become much more finely honed and my ability to explain it to others much more effective. I still think WTF to myself, but I have a much more articulate way of expressing myself to Fred.

Fred and our ability to listen to and talk with our archetypal voter is how we won the election. Yelling WTF “at Fred” may sometimes build a bond but it doesn’t get to shared values. Shared outrage is NOT shared values. Listening for Fred’s concerns and hopes is how we help Fred see what progressives are really offering. It is how we help Fred see through the right wing noise machine. It is the heart of the grassroots and how we win elections.

On a Saturday evening October I was sitting in a garage with my youngest son and one of his business-Republican friends. The friend is pro marriage equality and pro choice but definitely a pro business voter. I was wearing an Obama shirt and a variety of buttons. The friend was razzing me. He really is well informed and fun to debate.

He asked me, “So where have you been all day?”

“John,” I said “I’ve knocked on a couple hundred doors and taught our phone bank volunteers how to use the automated dialing system. And what did you do this fine day to help your party win?”

“Nothing,” John replied. “I gave them some money once and that’s it. I’m busy, you know. I run a company. Someone else can volunteer.”

“Well, John,” I answered, “Here’s the deal. The Democrats have students, working people, lawyers, professors and retirees like me all volunteering. Our volunteers are such a diverse and committed group. We all give whatever we can afford to but our time is as valuable as our money. You can talk all you want about ‘the polls’ but I’ll bet you $10 that the Democrats win in November because we all gave of ourselves to reach out to voters. No check you can write will replace that.”

So take your outrage, tone it down and keep talking to Fred. Fred is out there 365 days a year and we need to be visiting with Fred every one of those days.