Are you sure you aren't confusing conservatives with folks who call themselves conservative? Anything that leads away from smaller central government is not conservative. Spending more money than is available is not conservative. Aggressive foreign policy is not conservative, since it typically requires both deficit spending and an engorged federal bureaucracy.
As long as nationalists and national socialists continue to promote a social agenda under the name of conservatism, the national anti-true-conservative nightmare will continue to propagate.
Is Buckley a conservative?
Q: Can you give us a concise definition of conservatism?
A: Conservatism aims to maintain in working order the loyalties of the community to perceived truths and also to those truths which in their judgment have earned universal recognition.
Now this leaves room, of course, for deposition, and there is deposition -- the Civil War being the most monstrous account. But it also urges a kind of loyalty that breeds a devotion to those ideals sufficient to surmount the current crisis. When the Soviet Union challenged America and our set of loyalties, it did so at gunpoint. It became necessary at a certain point to show them our clenched fist and advise them that we were not going to deal lightly with our primal commitment to preserve those loyalties.
That’s the most general definition of conservatism.
Q: In American politics, in the day-to-day political struggle, what is conservatism? How does it manifest itself?
A: I think it manifests itself at different levels. It is more provoked by Soviet challenges than it is by challenges in trivial quarters by local school teachers. People always continue to ask themselves are they furthering the cause of conservatism by accepting this quarrel or that quarrel and inevitably we reach a situation -– especially because of the politicization of our culture -– in which it’s impossible absolutely to say whether John Jones by voting Democratic is manifestly entitled to the gratitude of conservatives rather than if he had voted Republican. So there is that diffusion and the difficulty in concentrating in a few words all the ideals involved.
Much depends, of course, on the emphasis that is placed on them, so that all of that must be kept in mind. I thought it was awfully well done by Russell Kirk in his book “What is Conservatism?,” which I thoroughly recommend.
more at: Townhall.com::William F. Buckley Jr. on Conservatism: An Interview::By Bill Steigerwald
Kirk developed six "canons" of conservatism, which Russello (2004) described as follows:
A belief in a transcendent order, which Kirk described variously as based in tradition, divine revelation, or natural law;
An affection for the "variety and mystery" of human existence;
A conviction that society requires orders and classes that emphasize "natural" distinctions;
A belief that property and freedom are closely linked;
A faith in custom, convention, and prescription, and
A recognition that innovation must be tied to existing traditions and customs, which entails a respect for the political value of prudence.
Kirk said that Christianity and Western Civilization are "unimaginable apart from one another."  and that "all culture arises out of religion. When religious faith decays, culture must decline, though often seeming to flourish for a space after the religion which has nourished it has sunk into disbelief." 
Kirk and Libertarianism
Kirk grounded his Burkean conservatism in tradition, political philosophy, belles lettres, and the strong religious faith of his later years; rather than libertarianism and free market economic reasoning. The Conservative Mind hardly mentions economics at all.
In a polemic essay, Kirk (quoting T. S. Eliot) called libertarians "chirping sectaries," adding that they and conservatives have nothing in common. He called the libertarian movement "an ideological clique forever splitting into sects still smaller and odder, but rarely conjugating." He said a line of division exists between believers in "some sort of transcendent moral order" and "utilitarians admitting no transcendent sanctions for conduct." He included libertarians in the latter category. Kirk, therefore, questioned the "fusionism" between libertarians and traditional conservatives that marked much of post World War II conservatism in the United States.
Kirk's view of "classical liberals" is positive though; he agrees with them on "ordered liberty" as they make "common cause with regular conservatives against the menace of democratic despotism and economic collectivism."
Tibor R. Machan defended libertarianism in response to Kirk's original Heritage Lecture. Machan argued that the right of individual sovereignty is perhaps most worthy of conserving from the American political heritage, and that when conservatives themselves talk about preserving some tradition, they cannot at the same time claim a disrespectful distrust of the individual human mind, of rationalism itself.
Jacob G. Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation also responded to Kirk.
more at: Russell Kirk - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(good reading for everybody except McBear)