Frankie I think part of the reason that I am confused is that you are using definitions to words that seem to contradict Webster's dictionary.
Main Entry: pa·tri·ot·ism
Pronunciation: 'pA-trE-&-"ti-z&m, chiefly British 'pa-
: love for or devotion to one's country
This defintion is pretty straight forward. Politics and government are not even mentioned.
Patriotism comes in many degrees from mild to extreme. Why use a short abriviated definition, that leads to confusion, here is a more comprehensive one:
Patriotism has ethical connotations: it implies that the 'fatherland' (however defined) is a moral standard or moral value in itself. The expression my country right or wrong - perhaps a misquotation of the American naval officer Stephen Decatur, but also attributed to Carl Schurz - is the extreme form of this belief. Patriotism also implies that the individual should place the interests of the nation above their personal and group interests. In wartime, the sacrifice may extend to their own life. Death in battle for the fatherland is the archetype of extreme patriotism.
Supporters of patriotism in ethics regard it as a virtue. In his influential article "Is patriotism a virtue?" (1984), the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre notes that most contemporary conceptions of morality insist on a blindness to accidental traits like local origin and therefore reject patriotic selectivity. MacIntyre constructs an alternative conception of morality, that he claims would be compatible with patriotism. Charles Blattberg, in his book From Pluralist to Patriotic Politics (2000), has developed a similar conception of patriotism.
A problem with treating patriotism as a virtue is that patriotisms often conflict. Soldiers of both sides in a war may feel equally patriotic, creating an ethical paradox. (If patriotism is a virtue, then the enemy is virtuous, so why try to kill them?)
Within nations, politicians may appeal to patriotic emotions in attacking their opponents, implicitly or explicitly accusing them of betraying the country. Minorities may reject a patriotic loyalty and pride, which the majority finds unproblematic. They may feel excluded from the political community, and see no reason to be proud of it. The Australian political conflict about the Black arm band theory of history is an example. Conservative Prime Minister John Howard, who would undoubtedly describe himself as an Australian patriot, said of it in 1996:
- The 'black armband' view of our history reflects a belief that most Australian history since 1788 has been little more than a disgraceful story of imperialism, exploitation, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination.
In the United States, patriotic history has been criticised for de-emphasising the post-Colombian depopulation, the Atlantic slave trade, the population expulsions and the wars of conquest against Native Americans.
Patriotism is often portrayed as a more positive alternative to nationalism, which sometimes carries negative connotations. Some authors such as Morris Janowitz, Daniel Bar-Tal, or L. Snyder argue that patriotism is distinguished from nationalism by its lack of aggression or hatred for others, its defensiveness, and positive community building. Others, such as Michael Billig or Jean Bethke Elshtain argue that the difference is difficult to discern, and relies largely on the attitude of the labeller.