From Paul D. Escott, Professor of history at Wake Forest University,
In the United States the continued influence of the old elite meant that southern politics fell under the domination of a Democratic Party that gloried the Confederacy, the Lost Cause, the Ku Klux Klan, and resistance to Reconstruction. White supremacy was made into the fundamental cause of the South, and racism became the tool to enforce white unity behind the Democratic Party whenever a political challenge arose. Another tactic used over and over again to maintain the Solid South was to warn against outside threats and outside agitators. The mentality of a defensive, isolated, but gallant South helped Democratic leaders to deflect attention from the problems of their society and the effects of their rule.
These powerful social currents, aided by women’s groups such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy, shaped and inhibited the region’s culture. Conformity to white supremacy, segregation, and Democratic Party rule was a social imperative for generations of southerners who were indoctrinated in the belief that they had suffered grave injustice with the defeat of their glorious Lost Cause. Had the diverse political leaders of so-called Radical Reconstruction continued to exercise some power or influence, the South would have been a very different society.