I've known a few different kinds of "conservatives" in my day. My kinsmen were what I regard as true conservatives, fans of Barry Goldwater and minding your own damned business. As a lad, I'd run around under the opaque cloud of cigar smoke and listen to their political discourse. They really didn't know what to make of hippies.
Later in college, I ran across the species collegus republicanus and its mutant form the YAFfer. These were perpetually dateless boys (and some precious few godawful girls) who had turned their rejection by society into misanthropy and their datelessness into misogyny in particular. They were the ones defending apartheid when the rest of us were criticizing it. They purported to promote draconian measures to resolve all manner of social ills and reckoned that their hard, and frequently criminal positions were signs of their ehnanced virility.
This strategy failed to get them laid, and many of them resorted to condemning sex altogether and to railing against feminism. They supposed that their social retardation and unattractiveness had nothing to do with their weekends spent in Risk and D&D marathons. They were as big a bunch of douches as I have ever encountered in my life.
Now some of these same wankers pass for "public intellectuals" in some circles, what with the intellectual pond of the right wing being so shallow. Some of them got to make policy in the last eight years, and we all saw how that turned out.
The third kind of conservative was the right wing fundamentalist religious nutzoid. The ones I knew couldn't really articulate their political ideology because they were just mindlessly following some leader or another who had told them that party A was aligned with God in a cosmic struggle. I never met any of the leaders, but I reckon that they are just trying to make a living by duping the feebleminded. Preachers have been doing that for centuries, so it's hardly surprising that some would find a niche in politics.
I don't regard the college republican or religious nut varieties as true conservatives. They're not out to conserve anything and, in fact, are pretty radical. They want to turn back centuries of classical liberalism and modernity to establish an authoritarian state. What's conservative about that?