Conservatives seek to preserve traditional values, and tend to be weary of change. Since those values change, the defining aspects of conservatism tend to change as well. For example, Adam Smith, once considered a liberal, would be thought of as conservative by today's standards. The conservatives of his time wished to preserve mercantilism and aristocratic traditions. Since America was founded by liberals, it has never had such conservatives within its own political spectrum. Instead, liberalism became part of the tradition which conservatives sought to preserve. As such, fiscal conservativism has come to be considered synonymous with classic liberalism, or modern libertarianism. However, conservatives also seek to preserve traditional social institutions and values, often through state intervention. They will often try to pass laws which favor certain religions, or ban consensual behaviors they consider immoral. In America, the term "neoconservative" has come into use in recent years. Neoconservatives distance themselves from the isolationist tendencies of other conservatives, and favor widespread, unilateral interventionism abroad. While Neoconservatives are often more libertarian than paleoconservatives with regards to immigration, they are less so in their support for military intervention and in the power of the federal government. Thus, like libertarians and liberals, many paleoconservatives are opposed to the Iraq War, USA PATRIOT Act, and some, notably Chuck Baldwin, Lew Rockwell, and Alex Jones, are opposed to the "War on Drugs".

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