The problem for contemporary self proclaimed conservatives is that the two primary planks in their platform are at odds with each other, so much so that they cannot hold.
Plank one demands radical freedom from government regulation and oversight so that personal autonomy can be enjoyed to the greatest degree possible.
Plank two demands that a bundle of particular social values be enacted into law and rigidly enforced.
The dominant figure in favor of plank one is Ron Paul who, quite accurately, notes that he cannot endorse much of anything in plank two. That makes him unacceptable to a majority of those claiming to be conservative.
The dominant figure in favor of plank two is Rick Santorum who, quite accurately, notes that he cannot endorse much of anything in plank one. That makes him unacceptable to a majority of those claiming to be conservative.
In the meantime, it appears that most so called conservatives are simply unaware of the unbridgeable conflict between the two. What they want is a government that will leave them alone to live as they like within a society that reflects their social values, forcefully rejecting any others. The closest we’ve come to that in American history are the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies whose leaders demanded the autonomy to live as they pleased, and what they pleased was to outlaw any way of life that deviated from their own. I suppose the modern nation that comes closest would be Saudi Arabia. I wouldn’t much care to live in either.