I sometimes get circulated emails from the Right. The authors tend to believe that people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 are immature dolts who want the government to satisfy all their needs. Or, they have other anti-Obama fodder.
Some of these complainers pretend the eight years of incompetent, disastrous Bush rule never existed. Some view the Bush years as the glory years.
Others understand that the Bush years were a failure, that he never should have been re-nominated in 2004, let alone re-elected, and that John McCain was the worst possible standard-bearer in 2008.
These are three distinct viewpoints. Do they have anything in common? To a degree, yes. They oppose several aspects of the Obama/Democratic agenda. But that doesn't mean they agree with each other as to why they oppose Obama. Indeed, they hardly agree on anything.
All I know is I am more clueless about the word "conservative" than I've ever been.
Some people may call themselves conservative and I may agree with them on 90% of the issues. Others will call themselves conservative, yet I'll agree with them 10% or 0% of the time.
Some conservatives see the world as a struggle between Good and Evil, and are looking forward to apocalyptic showdowns on the world stage and on the national stage.
Some conservatives are instinctive flag-wavers. They would bomb millions overseas to save a few at home. They would torture countless foreigners to save one American life, but if they learn that one American had been tortured, they would bomb millions. These conservatives believe suicide bombers who kill innocents are cowardly scum, yet American servicemen who drop bombs from the sky to kill foreign innocents are heroes.
Some conservatives believe that government agents who wear uniforms and carry guns are always right, but government agents with white collars and no guns (bureaucrats) are always wrong.
Some conservatives see threats in the "other," whether they are Communists, Muslims, feminists, or gays. Their sense of right and wrong serves their own economic interests, religious beliefs, and social values. Whatever goes against their self-interest must be wrong.
Some conservatives just want the government to do whatever it takes to keep Americans safe.
Some conservatives are single-issue pro-Israel voters.
Some conservatives are single-issue anti-abortion voters.
Some conservatives are single-issue pro-gun-rights voters.
Some conservatives are nationalists, who want a realist foreign policy that serves America's interests (i.e., not Israel's), and a pragmatic domestic policy that serves the interests of American citizens. They loathe humanitarian interventions, unwinnable wars, ceding of American sovereignty to trade agreements, and a welfare state that serves immigrants.
Some conservatives are Constitutionalists, who want the foreign policy advocated by Washington and Jefferson and a federal government limited by the language of the Constitution as understood by Madison.
Some conservatives are libertarians politically who also hold conservative (orthodox or fundamentalist) religious beliefs or socially bourgeois values.
Some conservatives are nationalists, Constitutionalists, or libertarians similar to the above, who are also conspiracy theorists.
Some of the conspiracy theorists limit themselves to Obama's birth certificate, others go back to the ratification of the Constitution or even Solomon's Temple.
Some conservatives are philosophical anarchists with tranquil souls who choose not to rock the boat.
Conservatives have been pro-trade and anti-trade. Pro-immigration and anti-immigration. Imperialist/interventionist and anti-imperialist/interventionist. Libertarian and authoritarian. Pro-drug-legalization and anti-drug-legalization. Orthodox or fundamentlist in religious belief, and skeptical or atheist. Pro-industrial and pro-agrarian. Pro-Federal Reserve and anti-Federal Reserve.
There is no conservative "agenda." There may be a conservative party - the Republican - to oppose the progressive Democratic agenda of having a government regulator controlling every aspect of your life. But there is no unified conservative alternative to this progressive agenda.
That's why, however slowly, the progressive agenda keeps gaining ground.