there is a site (quora.com) that poses questions for others to answer. They are not specifically political but this one is (and isn't a bad question!):
Conservatives, how do you defend conservatism or the Republican Party when the GOP seems to have a poor and dirty record (Karl Rove, VP Cheney or corporatism/oligopoly, etc) or lack of doing things to help people especially those who struggle?
Actually, I have a lot of friends who have been booted or suspended from Quora multiple times for merely voicing liberal arguments, in a perfectly civil way.
As to your question: It seems to have devolved into a cult of Trump.
The rest of the ordinary rank and file real conservatives seem to be leaving the GOP in droves and becoming independents.
I’ve always considered myself to be a Goldwater conservative with some of Perot thrown in later. But what is that belief? I think it can be summed up in three parts or tenets of a traditional conservative. Which by the way is pretty darn close to the classic liberal.
1. Fiscal Responsible – More or less a balance budget. Not spending more than what one takes in. How we get there? If spending needs to be cut, cut it. If taxes need to be raised, raise them. Usually a combination of both is required. Since Jimmy Carter neither major party has come close to being fiscal responsible. Keep in mind I used the word fiscal responsible, not fiscal conservatism which means low taxes while the national debt skyrockets.
2. Small Government – A government that stays out of a citizen’s private business and lives. Such things as abortion, let the woman decide, not government. Gay marriage, let love decide, not government. On this Goldwater was ahead of his time, there was no gay marriage or even talk of it back then. But there was about gays in the military. Goldwater said, “You don't need to be 'straight' to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight.”
3. Wars – This country should never go to war unless it intends to win it by whatever means it takes and does so quickly. Congress must declare war, no resolution either by congress or the UN. We also should never go to war unless we are directly threatened. Here’s what Goldwater said about Vietnam, “Vietnam is about halfway around the world from Washington. It's as large as the major European nations, with nearly 130,000 square miles... Its ancient recorded history goes back to 111 B.C... We entered (that country) with considerable ignorance. I told Johnson and old colleagues on Capitol Hill that we had two clear choices. Either win the [Vietnam] war in a relatively short time, say within a year, or pull out all our troops and come home.
I’ll add that one needs to be flexible within his ideology, so it meets the situation and the time a situation occurs. Common sense should always come out on top of any type of political ideology. There are times when one needs to spend beyond one’s means when the situation requires it. I always thought when the USSR broke apart and the Warsaw Pact disbanded, so too should have NATO. Mission accomplished. Other relics of the cold war are no more, CENTO, SEATO are gone, why isn’t NATO?
Traditional conservatives have no home among our two major parties anymore. So you’re right about that Jeffrey. Most of us have died away or became independents.