In 1861, a Louisiana journalist wrote an article [Edit: more complete text here - complete article] explaining 10 reasons why non-slaveholding whites would nonetheless fight for slavery . His most salient point, of course, is #4:
The poor white laborer at the North is at the bottom of the social ladder, while his brother here has ascended several steps, and can look down upon those who are beneath him at an infinite remove!wherein he explains that the class differences between rich and poor whites are masked by having a class below the poor.
But what finally struck me was #5:
The non-slaveholder knows that as soon as his savings will admit, he can become a slaveholder, and thus relieve his wife from the necessities of the kitchen and the laundry, and his children from the labors of the field. . . .
In the antebellum South, poverty really was a function of character, because any man who worked hard could eventually afford a slave. And once you had a female slave, you could literally breed yourself a fortune. This is the Libertarian dream writ large; that the privileged can profit by exploiting the vulnerable with the full force of the law to support them. (Libertarians have no problem with slavery as long as it's "voluntary," meaning once you can starve a man into submission, you can own him for the rest of his life - and his children as well.)
As I have written before, Republicans focus so much on gun ownership and the need for any man to defend himself and his loved ones at a moment's notice because of the threat of a slave revolt. The honor culture was a response to a slave-state, just like it was for the Spartans.
Thus, to understand Republican ideology is quite literally the same task as understanding Confederate culture. That's all it is; the entire Conservative movement in America is merely the extension of the Confederacy. It is only a matter of time before the official Republican party platform calls for the return of chattel slavery - solely to solve the budget crisis, of course.