Better is Good. Worse is Fucking Horrific.

We live in a world of worse.

Our President is the worst human being in America, and he has populated his cabinet with a motley collection of two-bit con artists with delusions of competence. On almost every single policy—taxes, the environment, immigration, health care, random obscure legal shit—our government is making things worse.

It sucks, but it’s reality.

Big Things are Made of Small Things

Saying “We can do better” is as trite and clichéd as it comes, but we can do better.

“Better” is the key.

Those of us on the political left often have an image in our minds of a better world; one where nobody gives a goddamn what religion you are, who you love, or where your parents are from. We have an image of a world where no matter how poor your parents were, you have access to world-class healthcare and a world-class education. We see this world, and we want to get there now.

But we can’t.

To be sure, there are moments of great change in the world. World War II ended. The Berlin Wall came down. The Supreme Court decided Obergefell. There are moments that signify great change.

Those moments are almost always the result of a lot of unheralded moments. The Supreme Court decided Obergefell v Hodges on June 26, 2015, ensuring that same-sex couples across America could marry.

It was a great moment, but it wasn’t just a moment. Almost 12 years earlier, on November 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court announced its decision in Goodridge v Department of Public Health, making Massachusetts the first jurisdiction in the United States to recognize same-sex marriage.

There were a lot of moments between November 2003 and June 2015. There were legal fights in court, in legislatures, and over referenda. There were wins, and there were losses. As much as the people fighting wanted a big climactic moment where they won the fight for good, they knew those moments come at the end of long fights, not at the beginning. One legislative fight at a time. One court fight at a time. One referendum at a time. Eventually, public opinion reaches a tipping point, and you get the big moment.

Millions of people fighting every day to make tomorrow better than today ultimately led to the one climactic moment that everyone points to. But remember, it took 12 years to go from Goodridge to Obergefell, and not only was that ridiculously fast, but the fight didn’t start in 2003. Goodridge itself was the culmination of years of fighting.

Momentous change is made of moments of incremental change.

“Better is Good.”

The world is an astonishingly large and complex place, and not everyone who disagrees with us is a racist shit-bag with the worst of intentions.

I mean, some of them are, who are we kidding?

But thinking that the best way to ensure that everyone has access to quality health care is with some kind of market incentive rather than a single payer system doesn’t make someone the enemy. The end doesn’t necessarily justify the means, but the goal is vastly more important than the method of achieving it. Doing something in the best way possible is never so important that doing it in a less good way is better than not doing it at all.

Even if all of the people on the right side of history could agree on the optimal way to achieve social justice, there are people on the wrong side of history with real political power. Sometimes they make the optimal change impossible. Sometimes even when you have immense power, you cannot simply dictate change.

Just ask President Obama. In an interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Atlantic, he had this to say:

One of the things you learn as president is, as powerful as this office is, you have limited bandwidth. And the time goes by really quickly and you’re constantly making choices, and there are pressures on you from all different directions—pressures on your attention, not just pressures from different constituencies. And so you have to be pretty focused about where can you have the biggest, quickest impact. And I always tell my staff, “Better is good.” I’ll take better every time, because better is hard. Better may not be as good as the best, but better is surprisingly hard to obtain. And better is actually harder than worse. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/12/ta-nehisi-coates-obama-transcript-ii/511133/

77,744 Is Less Than 123,031

For many of us, the Election that Shall Not Be Named was a day that made us question what the hell kind of country we were living in. How the heck could that many people vote for a racist shit-bag who openly bragged about sexually assaulting people?

Remember this, that the election was remarkably close. Hillary Clinton needed 43 more electoral votes to win. Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania combined have 46, and the Grifter-in-Chief won them by a combined 77,744 votes out of almost 14 million votes cast. That total, 77,744, isn’t just lower than the totals for the Green Party and Libertarian Party candidates, it’s lower than the total for “Other” candidates.

“Other” isn’t the traditional third-party protest votes. It’s fringe parties and people who write in their mother or Mickey Mouse. It’s people who know that their vote isn’t’ going to matter in the slightest and don’t care.

Please care.

Don’t “Be Best,” Be Better

We’ve spent a lot of time in the past couple of years saying that we’re better than this.

We’re not.

We are this.

But we can be better. We can’t necessarily be the best. We can’t wave our magic ballots and make the world a utopia. We can’t end hunger, homelessness, and hate with a simple vote.

We have to fight for momentous change with moments of incremental change. We have to build the perfect world by making this world better one inch at a time.

Those of us who oppose the Grifter-in-Chief and his party of kleptocrats are about to go through the process of nominating someone to oppose him in the 2020 Presidential Election. We’re all going to have a favorite, and most of us are going to be disappointed.

But when Election Day arrives in 2020, we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the better. We can’t write in Mickey Mouse or vote for the International Worker’s Party or whatever the hell we might want to do.

If we want a better world, we have to vote for the better candidate, not hold out for a perfect one.

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