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By David Lauter, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Members of the huge millennial generation are less religious, less likely to call themselves “patriotic” and significantly more liberal than older generations, new research shows.

Although adults aged 18-33 are much more likely to call themselves political independents than their elders are, they are also far more likely to vote Democratic. Their views favoring activist government, as well as their stands on social issues such as gay rights, reinforce that voting behavior, an extensive study by the Pew Research Center shows.

The youngest generation of adults, born after 1980, has the most optimism about the country. That comes despite the economic difficulties many of them have experienced since entering the workforce. And it stands in contrast with some previous generations: Baby boomers, for example, born between 1946 and 1964, were less optimistic than their elders at this stage of their lives.

The millennials are also the only generation of adults with more people who identify themselves as liberals than as conservatives. Just less than one-third of millennials call themselves liberals while about one-quarter identify as conservative. And nearly half say they have become more liberal as they have aged, with 57 percent saying their views on social issues have become more liberal over time.

By contrast, among members of the baby boom generation, 41 percent call themselves conservative and only 21 percent identify as liberals. And baby boomers are more likely to say that growing older has made them more conservative. On this and most other issues, the views of Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) fall between those of the baby boom and millennial generations, and the views of those born before the baby boom are more conservative.

The liberal views of the youngest adult generation show up on a range of issues. Nearly seven in 10 say they support same-sex marriage, for example, just more than half identify themselves as “supporters of gay rights” and they are twice as likely to see gay and lesbian couples raising children as a good thing for the country than as a negative, which puts them at odds with older generations. They are also far more likely to favor legalization of marijuana. Opinions on abortion and gun control, by contrast, show little generational difference.

Just more than half of millennials say they favor a “bigger government providing more services” rather than a smaller government — a polling question used for years as an index of people’s attitudes toward government’s role.

On the question of the role of government, the much greater racial diversity of the millennial generation plays a key role. About four in 10 members of the millennial generation are non-white — a much larger percentage than in older age groups. Their generally liberal views shape the generation’s outlook although whites in the millennial generation also hold somewhat more liberal views on government than white members of older generations.

Racial diversity may play a role in another distinctive feature of the generation’s members: Although they are optimistic about the country, they are significantly less likely than older generations to say that “most people can be trusted.” Sociologists who have looked at other studies over the years have suggested that people who see themselves as part of a vulnerable minority group are less likely to feel trust toward other members of society.

A significantly smaller share of millennials have married than among older generations at this stage of their lives. Only about one in four millennials have wed, compared with more than one-third of Generation X when they were in their 20s and 30s, and nearly half of the baby boomers.

That decline in marriage rates may reflect the lessened attachment that members of the generation have to other institutions, such as organized religion or nationalism. Almost three in 10 say they are religiously unaffiliated, nearly twice the share among baby boomers. Just less than half of millennials say that “patriotic” describes them well, in comparison with two-thirds to three-quarters of older generations.

But the reluctance to marry also reflects the tough economic circumstances that millennials have faced. Members of the generation are the best educated in U.S. history, but also have the most student-loan debt. Their unemployment rate, 13 percent as of January, is significantly higher than that of older workers. And an overwhelming majority of them believe that young adults today face more economic challenges than did previous generations — a view with which older generations concur.

Yet despite those economic difficulties, millennials have a positive view about their economic futures, the survey showed. A majority believe that they eventually will have “enough to lead the kind of life I want.”

The Pew report on millennials is based largely on a new survey conducted Feb. 14-23 among 1,821 adults nationwide, including 617 members of the millennial generation. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

AFP Photo/Scott Olson

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

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