Many politicians have exploited patriotism in attacking their opponents, accusing them of betraying the nation. In the view of many, the nature of these comments harm political discussion and provide less opportunity for deliberative democracy to flourish, because it appeals only to a visceral negative emotion (that is, angry patriotism), rather than to voters’ reasoned views on policy. Have a look at http://www.rightreason.org/2009/patriotism-as-idolatry/ for more info on this.
Many believe that the surge in patriotism enabled a number of major changes in national policy. The (significantly named) USA PATRIOT Act, which was signed into law on October 26, 2001, was designed to combat terrorism but is considered by many to constitute a harmful assault on civil liberties. It is also possible that the patriotic surge created a political climate under which it was possible for the Bush Administration to launch wars first in Afghanistan and then (far more controversially) in Iraq.
Like almost all wars, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq appear to have increased patriotic feeling. As casualties have mounted and opposition to the war has increased, a pattern seen earlier in the Vietnam War has reemerged: those in favor of war consider that those who oppose it are unpatriotic, or even outright traitors. Several conservative commentators have indicated they feel that news that paints the US in a negative light is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Since war opponents understandably resent such accusations, the political debate has taken place in an atmosphere of increasing anger.