We do not disagree as much as it may seem actually. My views on Market Sicialism are not that far away from your position on a regulated Capitalist Free Market other than the degree and some specifics. We both seem to agree that corruption and the ability of big money to manipulate the democratic process through the obscene levels of lobbying we are now seeing from both sides.
A conservative that I respect greatly is the late Senator Barry Goldwater from the great state of Arizona. He wrote a book that I think you would enjoy called "The Conscience of a Conservative". I found it very informative and based on a lot of good common sense that transcends political partisanship.
Same thing with Reagan. While I have some major issues with some of the things he did, I at least found him to be a rational conservative who would speak out against the out of control influence that this lobbying is having. Reagan also understood that there is a place for taxes and said many of the exact same things as Obama with regard to tax rates.
I object strongly to Romney because of his experience. The things he did at Bain Capital are reprehensible and demonstrate everything I view as being wrong with current manifestation of American Capitalism. Prominent Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan and "the father of conservatism" Goldwater would utterly reject his actions and ideas as immoral and destructive.
I think for most people their positions don't vary widely but the media and politicians do a great job driving that wedge between very reasonable Americans. It's more of a matter of degree usually. I don't agree with laissez-faire, although that's the hallmark of modern conservatism.
I will disagree with Goldwater being the father of modern conservatism. That should be William F Buckley who created National Review, and who's views, writings and activism shaped Goldwater and Reagan.
I guess they are both co-founders/fathers of the modern conservative movement, with Goldwater being the politician. I know why you liked him. He said it himself, he likes liberals and liberals are needed as a counterweight to balance conservatives.
I think we can both agree, if one party were to disappear America would go to hell in a handbasket very quickly.