The usual way to answer that conservatives answer that question is something like “Well, conservatives aren’t actually against progress, they just want to see it move a little more slowly”.
It’s one of those explanations that, on the face of it, almost sounds reasonable. Until you start to think about it — and actually investigate how that’s ‘worked out’ — ‘keeping progress to a trickle’ rather than the ROAR it aches to be. I’m not sure I can think of a country or culture that benefited from having its Best & Brightest held to a trot when they wanted to gallop…
I’m not sure WHY any country or culture would WANT to do that… Fear? Of what — the future?
The history of human beings is the HISTORY OF PROGRESS. We haven’t gone from living in nice houses to living in caves, or from cruising the highways and byways in Teslas to trudging them wearily on foot. We see nothing but advantages in EVOLUTION. Is there something about DEVOLUTION that would change my whole way of thinking about it?
The only reason you’d put the brakes on the future is because you fear it — perhaps because there’s something in the past you hold dear — and FEAR you would lose in the Future. And so you dig in your heels — to keep the future from happening (for others) because you want to protect what you’ve had in the past.
And THAT, really, is what conservatives are trying to conserve — not just slow down, but flat out PREVENT from happening — ANYTHING that would strip away ANY PART of the White, Christian, ‘Straight’, Male privilege currently being ENJOYED (and believe me — they absolutely do ENJOY it) by all those conservatives.
So the answer to the question — What do conservatives really want to conserve? It’s that — THEIR PRIVILEGE.