There is some sense that when we talk about the period leading up to the New Deal and beyond, that we are talking about progressives in the North making a tragic, yet necessary, bargain with white racists conservatives in the South. In fact what Ira Katznelson shows in Fear Itself is something a little more complicated. The white supremacists in his book are, indeed, for the most part, Southern. But they also are very much married to to the prospect of progressive liberal reform. It may break our brains a bit to imagine, say, a Southern white supremacist backing railroad unions. But that's actual history.
And if you think about it, it makes sense. Ben "Pitchfork" Tillman and Tom Watson were populist and (ultimately in the case of Watson) white supremacists. The division goes back to the days of pre-slavery politics when the South was somewhat divided between planters and yeoman farmers. I say"somewhat" because on the issue of White Supremacy, there was no division.
No character in Katznelson's book troubles the waters like Mississippi's governor, and then senator, Theodore Bilbo. Here is a man who, in one breath, can be hailed as "a liberal fire-eater" and then in another dubbed "a bulldog for protecting traditions of the South." Bilbo was a Klansman who stumped for Al Smith. But black equality was a bridge too far.