I was raised in a politically conservative Christian family in the heart of the Deep South (i.e. Louisiana, USA). I grew up with an adoration for Dwight David Eisenhower that would put any ten year old girl's Justin Bieber obsession to shame. I was too young to be a part of a political party, but Eisenhower was a Republican and I loved Eisenhower, so my assumption was that the Republican party couldn't be all that bad.
I'm just old enough to remember life under the Reagan administration and the beginning of the HIV epidemic. I thought that Reagan was a rat of epic proportions, but I still figured that he was an anomaly and that he didn't represent a strategy that the entire Republican party would soon adopt en masse.
I continued to call myself a conservative all the way until the middle of George W. Bush's first term. At that point, I gave up. It was apparent that Republicans had co-opted the term and made it synonymous with intellectual incuriosity and having an utter disregard for the lives of everyone who wasn't a rich, white American man. I had no desire to be associated with that, even though I knew what the term "conservative" had referred to originally.
I know there are a handful of Republican intellectuals who are still hopeful that the party can return to what it used to represent, but I think they are battling for a war that has already been lost.