A collectivist sense of nationalism permeates much of American identity, especially among those running for high office
Almost all Americans profess pride in being American, by way of expressing their patriotism. We are indeed a patriotic bunch, although (except for the naturalized citizens among us) we are also a deceptively aristocratic one, taking credit for accidents of birth. Sometimes our patriotism seems rather un-American, encouraging the derivation of individual identity from birthright and membership. It's not easily reconciled with ideals of individual autonomy. That, at least, is patriotism in its most shallow form, which is usually on display in presidential campaigns.
Presidential candidates are particularly proudly, vociferously, and thoughtlessly patriotic. Like Mitt Romney, they all profess to "believe in America," pledge commitment to its greatness, treat the flag as a talisman (requiring that we do the same) request and expect God to bless us, and posthumously congratulate the young men and women sent to die for their country, right or wrong. Patriotism is "the spirit that says, send me, no matter the mission ... no matter the risk ... no matter how great the sacrifice I am called to make," President Obama declared in his 2011 Memorial Day speech.