To conserve something is to want to preserve and protect it. American Conservatives want to return our government to doing only what is listed in Article I Section 8 of our Constitution. Anything that is not expressly authorized by it is to be either eliminated or done by the various state or local governments.
Going back to your original post, I am going to posit something that is likely to really, really tick you off: Liberals are the new conservatives. Now, let me explain:
Liberals/progressives want to preserve and protect - the environment, the economy, the civil order, the American dream. "Returning" the government to something it has never been
, however, is not
"conservative." That, rather, is regressive or reactionary.
Now, to soothe your psyche some, I want to emphasize something we have in common
- we want to honor American values, rights, and liberties. American values include fairness, justice, equal opportunity, meritocracy. Rights include expression, religion, press, assembly, association, privacy, keeping and bearing arms... and liberties to make family decisions within the family, freedom from want, from discrimination, from the vicissitudes of life.
As a Liberal I want State governments to have the opportunity to experiment, to innovate, and to deviate from what other States are doing - so long as they don't interfere with those previously stated values. I believe in a government that is big enough to do its job, but not so much that it interferes with the life, liberty, and happiness stuff. Mostly what we disagree on is what those things are, and what is interference.