“They’re called conservatives; what do they conserve?” Conserve: protect something, (especially an environmentally or culturally important place or thing) from harm or destruction. Based on their political behavior we seem to have a contradiction, but that is based on emphasizing the parenthetical. They seem opposed to conservation. First of all we must remember that neither conservative nor liberal is a species. Until recently there was more variation within either grouping than between them. They even overlapped. Both sides talk Flat Tax, but with entirely different goal. Unfortunately we have become more polarized since Vietnam. Conservative used to mean: A person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in relation to politics or simply safe. In most professions conservative means doing what you know will probably work or at least do no harm.
Many so called conservatives today do not seem to want to preserve what works but rather to re-implement policies that it seems will be to their benefit, many of which are old abandoned policies like Jim Crow laws, intrusions into personal life that should be nobody’s business, and especially less tax for the rich. They seem to be pro fossil fuels and pro war, any war, like the War-On-Drugs. War and fossil fuels are highly profitable for some.
There are different kinds of conservatives, and I won’t claim to identify them all. The Conservative leadership is dominated by white, old, rich, men (WORMS) e.g. McConnell, Gingrich, defending trickle-down economics. To give them credit they are very good at raising banners that collect followers. Second are the ideologues that read Ayn Rand and believe in a conservative philosophy much like a religion, for example the “Militia” that occupied the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. They cling to what is or they believe should be theirs. The largest group is ordinary people who tend to agree with those around them who happen to act conservative because of their environment: police, military, small town, or Bible-Belt. They watch Fox (Faux) News and call for less government rules for themselves, but law-and-order for those that they perceive as undeserving, e.g. minorities, and “liberals”.
The typical conservatives have not been victim of discrimination so they seldom perceive it as a problem. Some however have started to portray themselves as persecuted when they are told not to discriminate. Very few conservatives are a member of a minority, but there are exceptions: Carson, Thomas. Conservatives tend to support discrimination such as complex voter ID rules, and regressive taxation e.g. GET (sales tax) on food, but not aircraft maintenance. They also tend to lockstep on issues. Agree on every principal or be labeled a ‘Liberal’. A liberal might support a conservative idea, but seldom the reverse
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell
Conservatives seem to consider Liberal the worst insult without ever defining Liberal and apply it to anyone who disagrees. They often give it the same inflection as vermin. American conservatism tends to unify on many seemingly disparate issues, pro-life, but anti-health-care subsidy, lower taxes, but mainly for the rich, trillions for defense, but not one red cent for Planned Parenthood. Liberals on the other hand are famously disorganized, because by definition a liberal is one open to new ideas, albeit sometimes too open. Liberals I know are like Will “I am not a member of an organized political party; I’m a Democrat” Rogers. Liberals can agree to disagree and still be friends. They get angry and complain about perceived injustice, sometimes for themselves, but often just for others. Liberals never seem to promote hate of people. I hope I am wrong, but conservatives seem to use fear and hate to ‘conserve’ i.e. protect white, old, rich, male privilege.