Kevin Williamson of National Review Online ridicules rhetoric surrounding President-elect Donald Trump and his “mandate” to lead.

Who lost (“lost”) the popular vote (“popular vote”) is irrelevant for all sorts of reasons. For one thing, it doesn’t have anything to do with the outcome of the election. For another, it doesn’t, strictly speaking, exist. We don’t have a popular presidential vote, or a campaign for that vote. There are all sorts of good reasons for that, most of them anticipated by men such as Alexander Hamilton and other people wiser and more prudent than Joe Biden and Jill Stein and you.

Donald Trump, who won the election, is annoying the heck out of Democrats by having the audacity to act like he won the election. Which he did. “Oh, sure, he won the phony-baloney Electoral College election,” the Democrats say, “but our girl Hillary Placeholder Clinton won . . . this other imaginary election . . . which is now super-important!” …

… The question, our Democratic friends insist, is one of “mandate,” one of the most popular and stupid words in the American political lexicon.

According to this line of thinking, the fact that Trump won but did not win lots and lots of votes in highly populous Democratic states such as California where he did not campaign very much means that he should give Democrats what they want instead of trying to get what he wants. This is, of course, a one-way street: American voters have entrusted Republicans with the management of 68 of the nation’s 99 legislative chambers, 34 of its 50 governorships, a majority in the House, a majority in the Senate, and the mayoralty of Miami, but Democrats still believe that their elected officials, hated and despised and spurned as they may be in that vast sea of electoral-map red dividing Oakland from Trenton, should keep trying to get what they want, secondary considerations be damned. There is something to be said for the argument that if you won your election you should fight like hell to do what you told the voters you were going to do; Democrats just can’t quite see extending this thinking to Trump, who won the biggest and most hotly contested and most-talked-about election.