Since I started understanding politics, I have always considered myself a conservative, because I've always tried to reduce everything to simple decisions - right and wrong, black and white, yes or no - because nothing ever gets accomplished once it begans to be 'diluted' into too many gray areas. But the type of conservatism that I embraced has been gradually degraded through the years by too much compromise with too many utopian ideas. We were the wealthiest nation that the world had ever seen, and we could afford to share that wealth, it seemed, so why not give in a little?
Unfortunately, it is the nature of all governments to become corrupt, simply because of their inability to stick to 'yes or no' decisions that affect so many different people with so many different philosophies. It gives to some, and takes away from others, and it isn't always an equitable redistribution of their wealth. As long as the 'givers' have plenty, they don't squeal too loudly, because if they do, they get painted as robber-barons by any of the utopian ideologies (liberalism, socialism, etc.). So, the producers in our society just re-doubled their efforts to create new wealth, and mostly passed on their increased costs of doing business to the consumers who were demanding part of their wealth. It worked for a long time, till the demands became too great, but now that it is about to exceed the bounds of 'reasonableness,' it's all going to come crashing down, just like the libertarians knew it eventually would.
Conservatives of my ilk were the perfect target for Ronald Reagan's campaigns of the late '70's, early '80's, because his conservatism was rooted in the more libertarian ideals of Barry Goldwater (in his early days). Reagan was just a better salesman, and was willing to bend, just enough to sell those ideas to a normally 'wishy-washy' electorate that was fed up with the abject incompetence of Jimmy Carter. It worked, and the slide into economic oblivion slowed for a while, without any noticeable harm to the 'needy.' Trickle-down economics worked, for the most part, with the poorest of the poor still being more prosperous than any other nation's poor. It wasn't perfect, but it was a major improvement on the previous status quo.
But we have used it all up, now. The genuine prosperity that we once had is now just a memory, even though we haven't fully realized it, thanks to slick packaging. We are a debtor nation, bankrupt by any conventional accounting - we've just always been too optimistic about the future to give in to it. Reality is starting to creep in now, by the 50% of the population that pays the bills, because the last election showed us that the producers really are outnumbered by the consumers. The government that once encouraged the creation of new wealth, to support those consumers, no longer cares about the producers. This leader doesn't believe in trickle-down economics, or that the size of the economic 'pie' can be increased by entrepreneurial talent. He believes it is of a finite size, and must be cut into ever thinner slivers, until it is all gone. He doesn't say what comes after that.
We are about to enter a new frontier, economically, and I only hope that libertarians and conservatives can find a way to get together and rebuild it all, some day, because nobody else knows how.