"If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."
-Lyndon Baines Johnson
Lyndon Johnson was a very progressive president (domestically, certainly not in the war department) but as a U.S. senator he often led the conservative Dixiecrats in racist crusades. I don't know what led to his change-of-heart in policy (his own 1964 Civil Rights Act caused the racist conservatives in the South to switch to the Republican Party) but he certainly knew how the game was played.
The "I'm not racist" neo-confederates often use the line that the rich plantation owners couldn't convince the whole population to fight for their right to have slaves. But if you think about it, these same 21st century Republicans who are often dirt poor and critically uneducated, will fight tooth and nail to insure the rich man has almost no taxes, and they also ensure the unnecessary wealth of the 1% by eroding labor laws and dissolving labor unions.
The right-wing of any country and society will almost always play on the population's xenophobic and bigoted fears to win votes. The quote never became truer than in 2008 when Barack Obama became president. There were countless shoe-less, racist, ignorant, poverty-stricken, and embarrassingly dumb red-necks who thought they were far superior to President Barack Obama in every way. They are all puppets dancing on marionette strings pulled by people like the Koch brothers, Paul Ryan, and now our Cheeto-In-Chief.