As Republicans recover from their recent electoral drubbing, you'll hear a number of them talk about the need for the GOP to return to its "conservative roots". As a public service, I will note what those conservative roots actually are.
The most important thing to remember about conservatives is how utterly full of shit they are. They lie to themselves, they lie to each other, and they lie to everyone else. Rule one for determining what conservatives actually believe is to ignore what they say and watch what they do. Having spent much of my life observing conservatives, both in person and through the media, I have come up with a short list of the things they actually believe, based on how they act.
1. The ideal society is one where a small, wealthy elite rules over a mass of poor, uneducated peons.
2. Politics is the art of manipulating people into acting against their own interests.
3. Government exists to reward your friends and punish your enemies.
4. Government should be used to concentrate wealth into the hands of a tiny elite.
5. Government should also be used to promote the spread of fundamentalist Christianity.
6. Military force is the only proper way to deal with unfriendly foreigners.
7. If you can't think of anything positive to do, do something that will piss off liberals.
8. There's no such thing as a crooked businessman.
9. All taxes are bad. Taxes on the wealthy are particularly bad.
10. The more people a policy kills, the better.
11. Rules are for other people.
Remember: no matter what conservatives say they believe, what they really believe are the things I've just outlined. If you take a conservative at his word, you'll always be screwed.