Politics as a religion is a trend that has been long in the making. Amplified by the internet, social media, and the faux doctrines of many religious people, and especially many fundamentalists and evangelicals, who would naturally believe in conspiracy theories (ie, a poor foundation of Biblical knowledge and reality). Add a worldwide pandemic and it has been a "perfect storm."
The political replacing religion as the single most important motivating factor in many people’s lives as a worldview or even basic theology has been widespread and devastating. However, if we asked most Christians which was more important to them: God, or their political identity?.....the majority would say, “God.” This is the deceiving nature of idols. A person is rarely, if ever, aware what they worship is an idol. On some level, conscious or not, they can mistake a whole lot of nonsense for a "God" or the highest end.
The Israelites who worshipped the golden calf did not blindly believe they were worshipping an inanimate object. They wanted something they could see since God and Moses were out of sight for a duration of time. When Aaron saw this calf, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord." (Ex 32:5). So the people even got a major religious leader to bless them. There's fuel for the fire. God then told Moses that the people have "sinned against Me." And He punished them with a plague. This was, also, after Moses interceded on their behalf...and plead their case....so the plague was apparently merciful because God's initial reaction was to "destroy" them all.
The American evangelicals and fundamentalists have subscribed to the notion that God established America for His glory..a glory they can share....because, as they say, countries do not grow and governments cannot be established without God's approval? Right? Not right....the prophet Hosea would disagree:
"They made kings, but not through me. They set up princes, but I knew it not. With their silver and gold, they made idols for their own destruction. -Hosea 8:4".
It was because of this religious zeal that these early settlers of this country believed they were simply "doing Gods will" by killing native Americans and coraling them on reservations so the white man could fulfill his God-given destiny to own all of what is now the United States. It was this same religious zeal that made the white men believe slavery was a God-given right and one that they would fight for (and they did). As did the Israelites, the current right wing fringe embrace golden calves and political whims to give themselves a sense of security. Which is something they apparently could not get with the true God who is there and, instead, sought out a "God" they want to be there. Yes, it is idolatry. It's believing a big lie. The devastatingly horrible thing about it, though, is that whatever their golden calf or political ideology is...it is that the lies are what they truly think is the "truth" and they accept and perceive it all as very very real (in spite of evidence showing otherwise).