Conservatives know this country is at a historical crossroads, and I suspect that what they fear most is that they are just as much on the wrong side of history as their ideological ancestors were in the 1860s when the end of slavery was being debated, in the early 1900s when women's suffrage was being debated, in the 1930s when social security and the minimum wage were being debated, and in the 1960s when the civil rights were being debated. In every single one of those historical debates, conservatives:
- labeled their opposition socialists (and worse)
- called for states' rights instead of a federal solution
- said that they were the true heirs of the founding fathers, and were the keepers of America's traditions and values
- warned that the charges being proposed were frighteningly radical, and would destroy the economy
- that big government would lead to a destruction of all of our most basic liberties
... more after the click.
My comment: Obviously, conservatives gravitate to the party of ideas. Of course, you're aware that conservatives haven't always been Republicans and liberals haven't always been Democrats. Right?
Lincoln was a liberal and a Republican, taking the final step in ending formalized slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation. (Rush Limbaugh, titular leader of today's Republican party, recently made an impassioned defense of slavery. According to Rush, it simply wasn't that bad.)
Teddy Roosevelt was a liberal and a Republican. He was also a trust buster, breaking up corporate monopolies and a conservationist, setting aside huge tracts of land for the the National Parks system - two actions that today's Republican conservatives would find an anathema.