Just what am I actually conserving? I think this term gets thrown around most often without even knowing what it actually means. It is not just a name, like “team blue” or “team red.”
In short, conservatives are conserving what has worked in the past. It is, fundamentally, an empirical issue. This is in contrast to the rigid iconoclasm of the left, which is fundamentally in the Continental Rationalism vein.
There is a willy-nilly drive by the Left to destroy all barriers. But, the Conservative says that we sometimes actually need those barriers. They are there for a dang good reason, and they have been there for centuries. The classic Conservative adage is that You never tear down a fence without first understanding why it was put up in the first place.
But the Lefty adage is, Kill it ALL with fire. Their assumption is that they are smarter than everyone that has come before them and so they better see that these restrictions are just stupid and based in nefarious prejudices. In short, Leftism is rooted in overweening arrogance and baseless self-regard. THEY are smarter than your average bear! Yes, a curious mixture of intra-psychic defensiveness, personality rigidity, and self-serving iconoclasm.