Conservatism Conserves What?

When I was in junior high I learned about conservatives and liberals. What confused me most was that few of the ideas on either side seemed to have anything to do with the monikers ascribed to those who held them.
As I got older, I converted to Christianity and found several conservative political positions to line up with my emerging moral consciousness. But I also found several of them to abhorrent. I found pro-life positions to be based on sound philosophical reasoning. I also found prisons to seem counter care for your countrymen. And I found the non-coercion of the free market to make sense as well. Having fallen people tell other fallen people what they could or could not sell (or buy) just didn’t make sense. (those are my high school and early college reasonings).
As a kid I remembered feeling awkward around my more conservative friends because the punk-rock I listened to was really critical of the war in Iraq and I agreed with it. During Bush’s presidency, I remembered thinking that the privacy intrusions of the government and the reticence to do anything about abortion showed that conservatives meant neither to conserve human life nor the constitoooshun.
Lately,  I’ve realized how little conservatives care to conserve. I’ve even considered that republican rallying for the pro-life movement is merely a way to get elected. Edward Feser put it excellent about seven years ago here:
Stage 1: “Mark my words: if the extreme left had its way, they’d foist X upon us! These nutjobs must be opposed at all costs.”

Stage 2: “Omigosh, now even thoughtful, mainstream liberals favor X! Fortunately, it’s political suicide.”
Stage 3: “X now exists in 45 out of 50 states. Fellow conservatives, we need to learn how to adjust to this grim new reality.”
Stage 4: “X isn’t so bad, really, when you think about it. And you know, sometimes change is good. Consider slavery…”
Stage 5: “Hey, I was always in favor of X! You must have me confused with a [paleocon, theocon, Bible thumper, etc.]. But everyone knows that mainstream conservatism has nothing to do with those nutjobs…”

My own thought is that being conservative generally means conserving social credit by trying to get people to think you’re a moderate. Christians do this, too. “Those other Christians are bad, please like me now.” I think I used to do it, too. Seminary trains you to want approval from non-Christians. Seminary professors I know are especially like this. One of them is so condescending, even to people to whom he used to be a pastor, it’s difficult to imagine that he ever called himself a Christian. But all of it seems to be a way to get people to realize that he’s not like all those low iq rednecks.

Even when conservatives claim to be using logic rather than rhetoric to make arguments against this or that idea or candidate, the same logic is applicable against them. Heck, I’ve heard conservatives rail against the tendency of populist movements to appeal to the poor and if anybody appeals to the poor they should be ignored. But that’s precisely part of Jesus’ appeal in the ancient world. Conservatives, in their effort to get people to see them as “not like those other conservatives” will make up principles to which they’ve never held. One senator recently said that he didn’t think conservatives should look at wikileaks materials because it might happen to conservatives one day. In other words, “It’s bad for politicians to be forced into transparency.” No moral principle such as privacy was evoked, but merely interest in power. Elsewhere, on Twitter, I’ve observed allegedly “family values” folks ask Ann Coulter (who never claims to be Couth) disturbingly personal sex questions. Similarly, I’ve seen articles by conservatives about how people who live in flyover communities deserve to die (despite the fact that bad trade deals supported by conservatives sent their jobs overseas).

I’m not even sure my ideology has a name, but whatever I am, I’m not conservative by any widely accepted definition.