I have figured out something. Conservatives evaluate what's good by comparing reality to their moralistic ideas. Where liberal types look at the world and evaluate it's practical condition, conservatives look and consider how closely it matches their preconceptions.
In this case, their preconception is that 'people should get to keep what's theirs'. They evaluate policy by how closely it aligns with that idea. It's effect on the outside world is not important.
Liberals look at the policy and evaluate how it would change the situation. They evaluate it based on the predicted consequences. If it contradicts their principles in some way but does a lot of good, they still support it.
I posed an article recently that noted fMRI studies that observe that, when evaluating ideas, conservative brains expend a lot of energy in the amygdala; liberal in the anterior cingulate cortex.
The amygdala is thought to be the center of fear-oriented emotions, the warning system for the brain.
The anterior cingulate cortex is thought to be the part that evaluates ideas and helps us deal with ambiguity.
Which is to say that it's kind of obvious how these viewpoints differ. Fear vs analysis seems a decent shorthand for the underlying phenomenon. And what is used to stave off fear in the absence of analysis? Faith. And what do people who are not afraid do? Work for progress.
You can chase the comparison a long way before running into any comparisons that seem false. The upshot is not that they are lemmings, running blindly toward destruction. They feel that we are already destroyed by our variation from the ideal. They think they are leading us back to the only thing that matters, and now I switch to metaphor, close alignment with God's will. Their God, of course, includes the free market, low taxes and condemnation of everyone who does not share their values.
Making things better in the ways liberals value is not relevant. That is, they know that it is more likely that a camel pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man go to heaven. Of course, in this case, they mean 'rich with gay marriages and abortions.'
That is, the Taliban and ISIS are not the only group of people who are willing to destroy freedom and well-being in pursuit of their understanding of virtue. They live amongst us intend to subjugate us every bit as much as do their Moslem brethren.