First, the neo-Confederate ethos entails a sense of religious superiority, which is to say, a belief theirs is at once a greater and more appropriate kind of religiosity versus the more secularized society or religions one finds among the economic and cultural elites, usually the more educated in more liberal urban centers of the nation. These are typically Protestant religions, and especially among the more Evangelical and Pentecostal varieties, though it must be noted, almost exclusively among peoples of European origin.
Second, there is a belief that liberal cosmopolitans have strayed from the kind of country the neo-Confederates imagine the Founders and Framers intended, one harkening back to a kind of Rockwellian depiction of the halcyon days of a mythological white America. The hagiography surrounding major figures of the rebellious states during the Civil War, especially military figures, and plenty of iconography and symbolism in admiration of the Confederacy, are all emblematic of this mythmaking.
Third, there is a shared antipathy for what is seen as an economic hegemony by unscrupulous, elite money powers with global interests, interests often typified by Wall Street moneymen, and additionally, today, Silicon Valley techno-barons. In some quarters there are disturbing, exaggerated, and not-so-subtle reminders that some of these moneyed interests, as well as major media outlets, are led by Jews. Then, of course, there are the liberal denizens of academia who are intent on corrupting the young with anti-American and anti-religious ideas, and notions of equality among the races and sexes, even acceptance of sexual deviancy from the supposed norm. The focus of many of these elites is on investing capital, science, and technology, as opposed to more worthy forms of labor–––and it is at the expense of the “little man”––––a perpetual victim of dark forces. Victimhood by the impingement of outsiders is a particularly important trait shared by both the old and the neo-Confederacy.
These elites denigrate the neo-Confederates prized values of masculinity, womanhood, hearth, and godliness, bringing us to the fourth attribute, namely, eschewing the multi-culturalism and globalism, in other words: cosmopolitanism–––an outlook that often attends financial power, affluence, and education. Cosmopolitanism is closely aligned with liberalism ... openness, freedom, individual rights, tolerance, and free expression.
And fifth, and not least of all, there’s the matter of race (a rather bogus concept, biologically, I hasten to add, and largely a social construct, but one that communicates for our limited purpose)–––and an imagined loss of prestige and power in relation to those who are seen as inferior or as outsiders, resentments reinforced by an underlying and nearly visceral tribal contempt for “the other.”
Johnson’s prediction would come true in relatively short order, as cynical Republicans used states’ rights (often code for anti-civil rights legislation) and other effective memes to foment dissension and attract disaffected Southern Democrats. Richard Nixon’s “silent majority” and “law-and-order” planks, not-so-subtle code for preserving white power and culture, drove the penultimate nail in the coffin in terms of Democratic hegemony in the South. And Ronald Reagan drove in the final one with his rhetorical flourishes of robust patriotism and military prowess, always a selling point among many working and middle-class Southerners, and in particular–––and somewhat ironically, by this twice-married, Hollywood man–––by effectively co-opting the Evangelicals from the Democrats with the help of the likes of Jerry Falwell of the misnamed Moral Majority. In a matter of two decades, the South became a bastion of Republicanism. All this was shored up by state party operatives who ensured that gerrymandered districts and voting restrictions of various kinds would establish and preserve disproportionate power to their national numbers in congressional elections. Meantime, these new culturally-driven, revanchist Republicans drove away many of the cloth coat, country-club Republicans of the business class, and more liberal and moderate or libertarian Republicans of the northern and western states, if not to the Democrats (which was simultaneously losing more moderate and conservative-minded members), then to unaligned, independent and non-partisan status, where they would pick and choose based on candidates rather than based on party affiliation. Thereby, of all things, the Republican Party, the erstwhile Party of Lincoln, became a party that represented many of the values of its once mortal enemy, the old Confederacy cast anew. It cynically sought to capitalize on cultural grievances and on racial (now expanded beyond African Americans) antagonisms while, at the same time, maintaining its standing with commercial interests with the idea that self-interested financial motives of a more cosmopolitan and socially liberal commercial class would enable it to overlook the racism, religiosity, and the vulgarianism of the neo-Confederacy.