Our nation seems divided between two fundamentally different and irreconcilable visions of reality. One is called Progressivism or, (more negatively) Liberalism. The other is called Conservatism.
So, what is Conservatism? How is the term defined in the modern political context, and what are its distinguishing characteristics as an ideology? The word literally means to conserve the status quo; to resist change. But, it's not that simple in the modern context. Sometimes, it means going backwards. Other times, it means going places no one has ever gone before.
So, what are the key defining political/ideological issues that form the divide in modern American society, and how do they define Conservatism?
Government - Conservatives always say they want less of it. They always say they want government to stop trying to run people's lives. That's the face they show the world. But, is it real? They certainly have no problem with government telling women they can't have abortions, or telling people of "alternative sexual identity" what they can and can't do in private. Did conservatives ever have a problem with government spying on us, tapping our phones, even kidnapping us off the streets, torturing us and shredding the Constitution they (conservatives) claim to revere? They love to compare Progressive presidents they despise (especially Obama) with Hitler or Stalin, but they had no problem with Nixon controlling the electoral process, Reagan running death squads and supporting racist regimes abroad, or George W. Bush running secret prisons or limiting free speech, all in defiance of Constitutional law. No, obviously Conservatism is not defined by its hatred of big government.
Life - They claim to revere it. That's why they consistently oppose a woman's right to abort her pregnancy. They say they want a "culture of life." But, wait...They're always the ones to favor capitol punishment. They have no moral compunction against waging war, even against countries that have never attacked us. They shed no tears and recite no prayers for thousands of innocents...pregnant women and children included...killed by village raids, napalm, atomic detonation, carpet bombing and predator drones. They offer no apology for the attempted genocide of the Native American. No, clearly Conservatism is not defined by its love of life, since it clearly has none.
Tradition - They claim to embrace it. The old familiar ways. The time-honored ways of our forbears. But, Conservatives always view those values with 20-20 hindsight, don't they? Those who opposed abolition, integration and suffrage for women were the conservatives of their respective eras, were they not? Those opposed to change, liberalism, radical attacks on the established order? But now, the contemporary Conservatives find cunningly Orwellian ways to use the traditional words of "liberals" - words like racism - to attack their enemies. Traditionally, in fact, abortion was never equated with murder. Modern conservatives invented something radically new in leading that charge. No, Conservatism is clearly not defined by tradition. Only by conveniently selected bits and pieces of it.
Judeo/Christian Values - They claim to be defined by them, and to want them as the moral foundation of our system of government. But, they're very selective about which "Judeo/Christian" values to embrace. In fact, they seem to draw more from the Old Testament, with its emphasis on harsh moral judgment and revenge than from the New Testament, with its emphasis on forgiveness, mercy and love. They want the law to prohibit abortion and any love they deem "sodomy," but God forbid the notion of feeding the hungry or sheltering the homeless should ever find its way into government. Turn the other cheek? Love thine enemy? Easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the vault of Heaven? Hell, no. No, Conservatism is clearly not defined by Judeo/Christian values.
So, from all this, what is consistently Conservative, in the modern sense of the word? And, the answer is based on the results of their policies, not the pretexts they give for having them.
They oppose the right of the people to control their own lives through democratic governmental regulation of commerce. Even to the point of denying clearly real and present ecological threats, they delude the people into unshackling big industry (which clearly thinks nothing of enslaving or destroying our lives) while irrationally fearing big government.
They oppose a woman's right to control her own life.
They oppose any social innovation which may weaken the power of established monetary or social elites. They favor the comfort of the few at the expense of the many.
They scorn science and pervert religion, both for the purpose of keeping the population docile and resistant to change or free thought. In government, they form alliances with religious fanatics, using them to the extent it helps them (conservatives) secure power, but then discard them when they are no longer useful, not really embracing their spiritual beliefs at all.
In short, the true face behind the rhetoric is one of absolute control by the few over the many. The purely materialistic domination by the wealthy and privileged over the poor and downtrodden. The complete disregard for the future, embracing only the present, as defined by pure material greed. The past, they embrace only because it serves the purpose of the all-white boys club that happens to comprise their membership. They serve only themselves and expect all others to do the same. And, they use hate and fear to direct the public's attention against women and minorities, and away from what the corporations are doing to our economy, our environment and our lives.
The gentry raping the land and the peasants. Yeah. That's traditional.