I have referred a number of times to the ‘revanchism’ of Donald Trump’s supporters. The term originated out of the French demand to reclaim the eastern territories it had lost to Prussia in the War of 1870. But the literal meaning of the word is “revenge” or “revengism”: revanchism is a politics based on one group seeking revenge on another group and reclaiming from the latter group what was wrongfully taken from it. This kind of political orientation has been clear in the Trump movement from the beginning. But under pressure it’s coming even more clearly to the fore.
You’ve already seen the video of Secret Service agents rushing the stage at today’s rally in Dayton. As you can see, Trump’s immediate response is a bit panicked and he tries to crouch behind the podium – let’s be honest, a very understandable and rationale if not heroic response. But once the situation was under control, he pretty quickly recovers his composure and says this.
“Thank you for the warning. I was ready for ’em, but it’s much easier if the cops do it, don’t we agree? What a great job. What a great job. And to think I’ve had such an easy life. What do I need this for? What do I need this for? I’ve done great. I love this country. We’re going to make this country great again. It’s payback time. These guys are so fantastic.”
One might try to interpret this as aimed at protestors. But it’s pretty clear, by the nature of the words and structure of the statement, that Trump is articulating the rationale of his whole campaign, in a perhaps more emphatic form driven by the adrenaline of the moment. “We’re going to make this country great again. It’s payback time.”
Payback against who exactly? And for what?
I think we know the answer.