You`re totally right, and it`s astounding what the results have been. Conservatives have no voice at all today in politics, and are a significantly un-represented demographic. Nobody knows what to do about that, but I suspect there may be a new political party founded on the principles.
Conservatism is founded on similar principles as Ayn Rand`s "Objectivism," given that she and William F. Buckley Jr. founded the movement/concept. But it`s still different from there, in that the original idea never developed a proper "metaphysics."
There`s certainly room in the movement for some sort of spiritual belief system, which also has yet to be defined. For the moment, the core principles center on objective reality, capitalism, strict interpretation of the Constitution, and a couple of other points.
"Perception" is clearly a strong function of marketing, and ordinarily I would say that it`s the foundation of politics. Unfortunately, perception opposed to truth has gotten us into this situation.
I suspect that we won`t have a conservative party or movement until first, real and natural events take place to reduce the current interest in perception---symbolism over substance. People are going to have to get back to understanding how reality works, and sadly, that`s not going to happen without a lot of pain.
Your belief that conservatives "look to the past" is just propaganda put out by "whomever." It`s all hogwash, but not a point to argue in this topic.