In a speech delivered by Donald Trump to an audience of thousands in West Palm Beach, Florida, the Republican candidate turned his campaign in a more distinctly fascistic direction. Presenting himself as both the savior of America and the victim of a ruthless political and economic establishment, Trump sought to connect deep-seated social anger among masses of people with an "America First" program of anti-immigrant xenophobia, militarism, economic nationalism and authoritarianism.
Responding to the latest allegations of sexual abuse, Trump proclaimed that he is being targeted by international bankers, the corporate-controlled media and the political establishment who fear that his election will undermine their interests.
He offered as an alternative his own persona -- the strong-man leader who is willing to bear the burden and make the sacrifices necessary for a pitiless struggle against such powerful adversaries. Trump warned that the November 8 election would be the last opportunity for the American people to defeat the powerful vested interests that are supporting Hillary Clinton.
The clear implication of the speech is that if Trump loses the election, the struggle against the political establishment will have to be carried forward by other means: in other words, by force and violence.
Unlike other Trump speeches, which have largely consisted of rambling and disconnected improvisations, the West Palm Beach address, followed several hours later by no less explosive remarks at a mass rally in Cincinnati, was carefully prepared. Trump read from a teleprompter, and the argument was delivered coherently.
There is little doubt that the speech was scripted for Trump by his campaign chairman, Stephen Bannon, on leave as CEO of the Breitbart.com web site, a gathering place for the so-called alt-right, an amalgam of ultra-right, white nationalist and neo-Nazi tendencies.
The fascistic character of the speech lies in its combination of an appeal to real social grievances -- Trump referred explicitly to "the disenfranchisement of working people" -- with racist, chauvinist and dictatorial solutions. This includes not only the demand for jailing Hillary Clinton, now a refrain of every speech, but his calls for his supporters to prevent a "rigged" election by blocking access to the polls for voters in "certain communities."
Trump denounced the "global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities."
He continued: "Just look at what this corrupt establishment has done to our cities like Detroit and Flint, Michigan -- and rural towns in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina and across our country. They have stripped these towns bare, and raided the wealth for themselves and taken away their jobs."
He went on to cite internal Clinton campaign emails published by WikiLeaks this week, documenting how, as Trump put it, "Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of US sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers."
After the top congressional Republican, House Speaker Paul Ryan, publicly broke with Trump Monday, declaring that he would neither campaign for him nor defend him, Trump responded with the declaration, "It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to."
The West Palm Beach speech demonstrates what Trump has in mind.
The Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign have played a critical role in enabling Trump to advance his fascistic campaign. Throughout the primary campaign, Bernie Sanders drew larger and more enthusiastic crowds than Trump for his denunciations of Wall Street and the power and privilege of the "millionaires and billionaires."
Once Sanders quit the race and threw his support to Clinton, the epitome of the political establishment, the Democrats created the conditions in which Trump can present himself as the sole opponent of the status quo. He is seeking to draw on the social anger that previously animated support for Sanders. Indeed, he has repeatedly denounced Clinton for the corrupt, backroom maneuvers aimed at undermining Sanders, which Sanders himself has worked to cover up as he campaigns for Clinton.