By the mid-20th century, when the repose of an industrial aristocracy was being broken by the progressive mission of global capital and the welfare state, US conservatism began to find a home amongst "the people," laying the groundwork for the right-wing populism we enjoy today.
Liberalism, in its turn, without the working class, has come to mean corporate; to be "liberal" is to be culturally corporate. This is described by the left as "sanity": it is normal, and prevailing; as Jon Stewart says, we are too busy working to go to rallies! In any event, it is what we know.
Rank and file conservatives see in themselves, correctly, an underdog in the face of global capital. There is no small government that will ever come from the Republican Party, only less government for the working class. To their credit, they look with skepticism on "crony capitalism" in a way that Obama supporters, patiently awaiting the next FDR, would do well to study.
Liberals see in themselves an advocate for working people, but this suffers from their integration into corporate structures by which they benefit more than most. Their advocacy extends as far as what the Democratic National Committee will allow. They fight for a base of power within the state, from which they will do good for all -- or at least for themselves and their favored minorities, while they use the state to enforce corporate culture in rural schools and local communities that appear intransigent. They compete as voters against financial institutions in setting policy, and predictably lose every time!
"The left" would do well to acknowledge its economic position in relation to capital, and understand that most of the electoral "right" exists subordinated to it. An identification with "progressive issues" does not bear on where one stands, or what one contributes to, every day we participate in an unexamined career.