"The central contention of Conservatism has been that, before building something new, the values that have been created must be conserved. I take it that in the United States the foremost Conservative committment is to defend--and improve--our constitutional government, our laws and our system of order; the social and economic institutions on which our civilization is built; and the Bill of Rights, which is the basis of our human relationships and freedoms. The Conservative is not committed to preserving our morality, institutions, laws, and procedures precisely as they now are, let alone to upholding their abuses, but he is committed to the notion that reforms must be accomplished by Americans through constitutional process, and neither through revolution nor imposition by a foreign conqueror."
Stefan T. Possony, "The Challenge of Crisis," in Frank S. Meyer (ed.), WHAT IS CONSERVATISM? (Henry Regnery, 1964).