For those afflicted, it has all the compulsiveness of a guilty habit: repeatedly scanning news headlines; experiencing mood swings based on the latest polling data; responding to scandals, epidemics, or Wall Street gyrations by first wondering how it will affect the race. The insta-politics addiction (which I fall into from time to time) is a disease of the technological age. Like Instagram-fueled shopping or VR gaming, it promises a heightening of experience while in fact delivering a kind of numbness.
The Unites States is caught up in the spectacle of a presidential election year, and political obsession is again a social contagion. The full-blown symptoms may affect only a small part of the population, but through the social networks and the media, it influences far more, and the polarized identities it encourages are real enough. That’s true even in a relatively open-minded Anabaptist Christian community like the Bruderhof, where I live. When the talk turns to elections, emotions begin to simmer.
It’s hard not to suspect your political opponents of willfully shutting their eyes to self-evident truths. How can a follower of Jesus fail to support healthcare for the poor, racial justice, and getting immigrant kids out of cages? Or: how can she tolerate abortion, sex change for kindergartners, and the push to eradicate faith from the public square?