Megan McArdle, who I really like, says that Trump voters (and other angry Americans) should face reality: nothing in Washington can be changed. Very cynical of her, or as she says, "realistic". Yes, the federal bureaucracy has a huge amount of inertia, but McArdle neglects to mention a few things that a President has significant control over.

Washingtonians, unlike the people making the demands, actually have to analyze the feasibility of these various sorts of requests. When they do, they quickly see that they are impossible, and set about finding innovative ways to ignore them. The insiders who need to get elected nonetheless say, "Yup, I'll get right on that," and then ignore them.

This makes people think that Washingtonians don't care about them. This is false. Washingtonians do care. It's just that they seem to have misplaced their magic wand.

The second problem has to do with Item No. 4: Everything you do in Washington is a compromise. There are a lot of people in the country, and most of them don't care about what you want. To get money spent or unspent, taxes raised or lowered, you have to give those people something they do want. The result is an ugly mess with little resemblance to the original plan.

Don't like it? Welcome to representative democracy. If you have a plan to deal with this problem that doesn't involve fantasizing about the sudden (but nonviolent) disappearance of more than half your fellow citizens, we're all ears. Otherwise, this is what we're stuck with.

But the next president will be able to do lots of things that will have a huge effects:

  • Appoint judges
  • Appoint various commissioners
  • Negotiate treaties and trade agreements
  • Direct the military
  • Issue (and negate) executive orders
  • Set law enforcement priorities for the Department of Justice
  • Use federal funding to pull strings on state and local governments
  • Sign and veto laws

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