That -- according to David Brooks -- is the question Andrew Sullivan is asking in his book "The Conservative Soul." Brooks writes a strangely good/bad review, in which he agrees with the aspects of Sullivan's thinking that have to do with the "conservatism of doubt" and "epistemological modesty" but takes him to task for failing to understand what religious conservatives are really like and for missing the "complexity" of fundamentalism. Then he praises Sullivan for being at his "wonderful best" when he is "a fervent, passionate crusader" for the things he's fundamentalist about -- like gay marriage and torture.
That doesn't seem too complimentary to Sullivan, but in the end I get the impression that Brooks is criticizing himself, saying that all that doubt and modesty that he himself finds so alluring really doesn't cut it in American politics:
... Oakeshottian conservatism can never prevail in America because the United States was not founded on the basis of custom, but by the assertion of a universal truth — that all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain rights. The United States is a creedal nation, and almost every significant movement in American history has been led by people calling upon us to live up to our creed. In many cases, the people making those calls were religious leaders. From Jonathan Edwards to the abolitionists to the civil rights leaders to the people fighting AIDS and genocide in Africa today, religiously motivated people have been active in public life. They have been, in their certainty and their willingness to apply divine truths, fundamentalists — if we want to use Sullivan’s categories. You take those people out of American politics and you don’t have a country left....
Conservatives need to relearn the lessons of Burke and Hayek — that the world is complex, and efforts to transform it will have unintended consequences, most of them bad. But if American conservatives give up their optimism and their universal creed, they will once again be a small sect at the fringes of political life.