I'm getting more and more (and more and more and more) angry with the idea that people voted for Trump because they wanted to see a change in establishment politics. I mean, I know they thought that, but it's really pissing me off.
Trump can't take down the establishment. Trump is going to do an immense amount of damage but it's not going to be damage to the system. We aren't going to have a civil war, because for a solid 100 years now the US military has been optimized to preemptively suppress the people in case of revolution. Trump can't push policy that dismantles the status quo, because all his avenues for meaningful action require the cooperation of hundreds of life-long establishment politicians.
And most importantly, being an outsider -- being not-a-politician -- doesn't mean Trump has a special capacity to outsmart politicians. It means he has zero experience in political maneuvering, which is a skill set that people practice and get better at.
This is the really core thing: regardless of everything else, the job of the President of the United States is to be good at politicking. The head of the state is the persona of America, and they're the point person for many, many direct interactions with other brilliantly talented and extremely practiced politicians.
Trump is easy to bait and easy to confuse. He doesn't grapple with complexity or details. It will be trivially easy for any politician to arrange deals with Trump that he'll perceive as extraordinary victories, but that are riddled with time bombs and backdoors.
Establishment politics is a global system, and Trump is going to end up forking over a shitload of control and power in America to other global superpowers. I'd be shocked if a lot of other countries' establishments didn't manage to get a slice, too -- probably most often at the expense of their people as well as ours.
But the loss of relative standing for the U.S. is not a decline of establishment politics as the control system for the U.S. The powers Trump has as the president all consist of his ability to strengthen his party's control over -- and investment in -- establishment power structures.
There is no silver bullet to vanquish the American political machine. We elected a president, not a constitution.
The system is slow, patient, and cautious. Trump is only a small inconvenience to the system, because the system does not suffer when it kills Americans by legislation. The system does not suffer when trade deals disintegrate, it does not suffer when America goes to war.
To do real damage to the system requires precise, thoughtful, and extremely politically-minded action. Bernie Sanders could have done a little bit. In a different political and economic landscape, Lawrence Lessig (a lawyer with a lot of experience under his belt and a strict, precise commitment in mind) could have done a whole lot.
Hillary wouldn't have done anything to harm the system, but that wouldn't have mattered much because the system doesn't care whether it's helping or hurting the citizens, and she'd have wielded it as far towards the good as its machinery would allow. Her establishment skillset means she could probably achieve more actual leftist progress than Bernie could've, although Bernie would have left the system in a better state for leftists down the line.
Like I said -- it's complicated, it's patient, and it's slow. And right now it's basically the One Ring, and all of Trump's supporters are convinced that he's got the strength of will and physical ability to walk it to Mount Doom and drop it in.
He has neither, and his efforts just mean walking all that power closer to the hands of those who would use it for the greatest harm.