When most people think about conservatives they think about Big Government conservatives or religious right conservatives. I believe the word conservative is misleading in today's changing society. Many people are beginning to pay attention to political matters, don't like what government is doing and have become active in making changes. When polled, many of these people identify themselves as conservatives, but only because our political language hasn't changed to describe the new wave of political activists. I see these people who want less State control and government intervention as independents who were basically apolitical until they were shocked out of apathy by a long lasting recession and the prospect of serious healthcare changes which appeared to be pushed on them.
These new political activists don't fit the traditional conservative mold, at least the ones I've had direct contact with. I suspect most are fairly liberal socially, and they are fiscally common sense conservative, against extravagant spending and waste, appalled by corruption, just what you'd expect from the average person. Among these people, levels of education vary, but I doubt many have received a comprehensive education on political philosophy, even if they've received a comprehensive education relating to their line of work. I think if most of us who don't live and work in government in Washington D.C. think about the people we know, we would say they are not well informed about politics -- it's just not a subject most people desire to master. In America it seems like people hrough the years developed the idea that all the political syuff is being taken care of by others, and that our form of government will prevent any drastic changes which could threaten our way of life. This is the way it should be in an ideal America, but great thinkers warned early in our history that apathy would be our downfall.
So, many Americans are waking up and they don't yet have a political identity -- when they're polled, and they have problems with an overbearing government, they know enough about the superficial distinctions between conservatives and liberals to say they're "conservative" because they believe that's the group pushing for a more limited government and common sense spending. Yet, although the learning curve is steep, I'm witnessing people getting their grounding, and they want to stop the power-grabs. What shall they be called? I don't know, but I'm glad they're waking up.