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Americans Boomer’s Feel Their Voting Weight

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Photo: Eyevine

This has been a year of the young. The protesters against racial injustice have mostly been in their 20s. The average age of demonstrators arrested since mid-June in Portland, Oregon (one of the centres of activity) was 28. The young have not suffered as much as others from covid-19 itself but were hardest hit by the response. Four-fifths of those between 18 and 29 lost a job or took a significant pay cut in April, or live in a household where that has happened. Only three-fifths of those aged 50 to 64 have experienced the same thing. Young people are the most likely to work in jobs vulnerable to closure, such as waitressing or retail.

And 2020 will be a year of the young in one more important respect. Electorally, it will be the last stand of the baby-boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) and the first poll in which voting will be dominated by generations younger than 40, especially millennials, born between 1981 and 1996. As Bill Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a think-tank, puts it: “America is moving from largely white, baby-boomer-dominated politics and culture in the second half of the 20th century to a more racially diverse country fuelled by younger generations: millennials, Gen Z-ers and their juniors.”

Boomers have dominated American politics since the 1990s, when they became the largest living generation and started to cast the largest number of votes. (Boomers and millennials have an official status, since the Census Bureau uses those terms; all the other generations are private classifications.) Since Bill Clinton’s election in 1992, six of the eight presidents and vice-presidents have been boomers (Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate, is one of the exceptions, being too old). So are most of Congress. Since 1998, the median age of congressional representatives has put them in the boomer class.

But boomers lost their status as the largest generation in 2019, when millennials overtook them in absolute numbers. That year, there were 72m millennials aged 23 to 38, according to the Pew Research Centre, 500,000 more than boomers (then 55 to 73). The boomers are dying; immigration is swelling the ranks of the young. For the first time in 2019, more than half of Americans were millennials or younger (meaning members of the generations that came afterwards, called Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, and post-Gen Z, born after 2013). These are the generations of Netflix, not networks; of Greta Thunberg, not Greta Scacchi. The three younger groups made up 51% of America’s population in 2019. In 2010, they had accounted for only 41%.

The electoral impact of these demographic shifts has been muted so far because most Gen Zs are below voting age, and because millennials have a reputation—not entirely deserved—for being apathetic about politics. But things are changing. “Millennials and Gen Z will comprise almost 40% of the electorate in 2020,” says Carolyn DeWitt, head of Rock the Vote, an electoral-mobilisation group, “giving them enormous power.” The two youngest voting-age groups are likely to have more votes than the two oldest, boomers and the so-called silent generation born before 1946 (see chart 1). “If young people are not voting…that is not a democracy,” says Wisdom Cole of the NAACP’s youth organisation.

The shift towards the young has occurred surprisingly swiftly, not in tiny steps. In the 2010 mid-terms, boomers and older people outvoted the younger generations almost two to one. As recently as 2014, a disparity remained: boomers cast 57m votes; younger voters, 36m. Four years later, the three younger generations (which now include a few Gen Zs) outvoted the older ones. Not by coincidence, the 2018 mid-terms were a blue wave, in which Democrats regained the House.

Younger generations differ from their elders in attitudes, ethnicity and education. According to Pew, millennials and Gen Z-ers are the most likely to say governments should do more to solve problems, that same-sex marriage is good for society, that climate change is caused by human activity and that blacks are treated less fairly than whites. They are also more likely to say fetters should be put on capitalism, says Pew’s Richard Fry, perhaps because both generations started looking for jobs during recessions, the Great Recession for millennials, the covid recession for Gen Z.

They are also more likely to be from minorities themselves. As a simple rule, the younger you are, the more likely you are to be black, Hispanic or Asian. Mr Frey calculates that almost three-quarters of 60-somethings are white. Half of those under 20 are from a minority. The impact of young minorities is especially great in sunbelt states. In Texas, 44% of eligible voters are Hispanic or black. But among voters under 40, the minority share is over half. In Arizona, Hispanics are 31% of all eligible voters but 44% of those under 40. In eight states, including Georgia and Florida, over half of voters under 40 are from a minority. These are places that Democrats have a shot at winning for the first time in a generation. They are also the people most likely to be galvanised by the killings of George Floyd and others.

Millennials and Gen Z-ers are better educated than their parents and grandparents. The Pew Research Centre looked at the educational attainment of 25- to 37-year-olds in each generation. For boomers, roughly 25% had a college degree or higher. For millennials, the share was 39%. The leap has been especially great for women. Among boomers, more men than women have degrees. Among millennials, 43% of women have degrees, seven points more than men. The Republicans’ disastrous performance in 2018 in suburban counties, former strongholds, owes much to the revulsion felt by college-educated millennial women for Mr Trump.

Education and race are among the most reliable predictors of party affiliation. Blacks vote for Democrats by ten to one or more; Hispanics and Asians by about two to one; 53% of college graduates identify with Democrats, only 40% with Republicans.

Put all this together, and it is hardly surprising to find that millennials and Gen Z-ers are far to the left of boomers. Younger voters identify with issues, not parties, but they tend to vote Democratic (see chart 2). In 2016, calculates Mr Frey of Brookings, people aged 30 to 44 (older millennials) voted for Hillary Clinton by ten points (55% to 45%); voters aged 18 to 29 (younger millennials and Gen Z-ers) by 19 points. Millennials form the bedrock of support for the progressive left, who have been doing well in Democratic primary contests this year.

But will they turn out? This year, admits Ms DeWitt, “the top of the ticket won’t be a motivator.” Nor will deliberately obstructive voting procedures. Voters under 30 have always voted less than older ones anyway, often by large margins, though this may owe as much to political parties as to voters themselves. In 2016 two-thirds of young voters said they had not been contacted by any party before the election, probably because parties concentrate their get-out-the-vote efforts on those who have voted before (making low turnout among the young a self-fulfilling prophecy). “Young people are issue-based voters,” says the NAACP’s Mr Cole. “We’re not going to turn them out by just saying, ‘Go Vote! Go Vote!’.” And, as Pew’s Mr Fry says, “how the pandemic affects turnout is anyone’s guess.”

Still, there are signs of change here, too. Turnout among voters aged 18 to 29 almost doubled between the 2014 and 2018 mid-term elections. Anecdotally, say election organisers, Gen Z activists are more engaged in the 2020 campaign than older voters. Rock the Vote’s online voter-registration platform has processed 900,000 registrations so far this year, compared with 500,000 at the same stage in 2016. It seems likely, thinks Ms DeWitt, that anger about the death of George Floyd and others will be a wake-up for the young. Disgust at Mr Trump may transcend generations.

Democrats are understandably cautious about Joe Biden’s opinion-poll lead. As 2016 showed, leads can shrink and the electoral college can let a candidate lose the popular vote but still win the White House. But from a generational point of view, it is no surprise that the Democrat should be out in front. It reflects not only Mr Trump’s personality and record but shifts in the tectonic plates of electoral demography. (The Economist)

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Behind Trump’s Push for ‘Patriotic Education’ in US History

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Amid the ongoing national crisis over the deadly COVID-19 virus, the President of the United States warned of another national crisis on Thursday: the “ideological poison” of “radical” history education.

Speaking on Constitution Day from the National Archives—where original copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights are on display—during a White House conference on American History, President Donald Trump announced that he was signing an executive order to establish the “1776 Commission,” a group that would “promote patriotic education,” and that the National Endowment for the Humanities would be awarding a grant to support the development of a “pro-American curriculum that celebrates the truth about our nation’s great history.”

In the course of his announcement, Trump claimed that people on the left want to “bully Americans into abandoning their values, their heritage and their very way of life,” and denounced the forces that he blamed for propagating that view in history classes. He called the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which reframes the story of nation’s founding around the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in Virginia, “toxic propaganda,” and he also singled out the late Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States. Zinn’s book, widely used in schools since it was published in 1980, is credited for helping popularize a bottom-up approach to history, as an alternative to telling the story of the U.S. via the top-down achievements of elite white men.

Such approaches to history, which encourage students to challenge long-standing narratives about national heroes, are “ideological poison, that if not removed will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together,” Trump said. Under his plan, he said, “Our youth will be taught to love America with all of their heart and all of their soul.”

The federally-funded “patriotic” curriculum Trump promised is set to be an adaptation of Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story, by Wilfred M. McClay, a University of Oklahoma historian who also spoke at the Thursday event. Prior to the President’s speech, a panel of professors and education experts—as well as Ben Carson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development—sang the book’s praises. When it came out last year, it was hailed by the right-leaning The National Review as “essential” and “an extraordinary act of patriotism”; on the other side, Georgetown University history professor Michael Kazin argued it “ignores most social movements ” and gives the “silent treatment to the long struggle for black freedom.”

While there are voluntary national guidelines for history education, the U.S. has no specific federally mandated curriculum for the subject.

But this wasn’t the first time Trump has tackled the topic of history curricula. His speech elaborated on a tweet he sent last week expressing horror that schools were teaching the 1619 Project’s accompanying curriculum, not long after he told federal agencies to halt sensitivity trainings that incorporate critical race theory, a framework that examines American history and culture through the lens of race.

“We will never submit to tyranny,” Trump assured the audience, arguing baselessly that radicals want to keep Americans from speaking the truth. “We will reclaim our history.”

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And while Trump’s push for “patriotic education” via McClay’s work may be new, it in fact echoes decades of conservative efforts to counter Zinn’s narrative, says Adam Laats, historian and author of The Other School Reformers: Conservative Activism in American Education. Examples include David Barton’s WallBuilders project, “dedicated to presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes,” and A Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery to the War on Terror, a 2004 book by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen. (Zinn’s work has come in for criticism from academic historians on the left too, but the field today broadly acknowledges that a full recounting of history cannot be made without taking into account the lived experiences of people beyond the halls of power.)

More general efforts to encourage the inculcation of patriotism via the history classroom are even older than that, as TIME reported earlier this week. During the Red Scare of the 1920s, the American Legion attempted to develop a patriotic textbook. And in the 1960s and ’70s, the U.S. Supreme Court’s nixing of school-sponsored prayer, combined with busing efforts to integrate schools, fueled conservative concerns about the state of public education that continue to this day, Laats says.

But, all along, other historians have argued that, even accepting the premise that history education should instill patriotism—a premise to which many object—the way to do so is to give students the full picture, not to focus exclusively on the moments of glory. In 1948, when his work was banned from schools for seeming too favorable to communism, curriculum writer Paul Hanna argued that students would be more likely to fall for propaganda if they were spared the more unsavory parts of their own country’s history.

On Twitter, historian Joanne Freeman echoed that idea Thursday, writing that to “love a nation is to embrace it with all its complexity.”

And while Trump worries Howard Zinn and the 1619 Project will make Americans “ashamed” of their country, recent polls indicate that Americans are ready to learn. A Southern Poverty Law Center poll published Thursday found that 70% of Americans support anti-racism education policies “to reduce and prevent hate and extremism”; Pew polling found that roughly the same majority believe that acknowledging the nation’s historical flaws makes the U.S. stronger today.

Not everyone who feels that way was entirely dismayed by the President’s announcement. Nikole Hannah-Jones, one of the creators of the 1619 Project, tweeted that she takes “great satisfaction” from some aspects of the fight against her work—after all, those who try to suppress it only prove how significant its impact has been.

Write to Olivia B. Waxman at [email protected].

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Pentagon Papers leaker Ellsberg backing Assange

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Daniel Ellsberg, one of the most famous whistleblowers in American history, came to the defense of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in his legal fight to avoid extradition to the United States from Britain, claiming he would not get a fair trial in the US.

The 89-year-old, who is widely credited for helping to turn the tide against the Vietnam War, told London’s Central Criminal Court via a video link that WikiLeaks had acted in the public interest much like he did, The Guardian reported.

Australian-born Assange, 49, is fighting efforts to send him to the United States, where he is charged with conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law over the release of confidential cables by WikiLeaks in 2010-2011.

Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked documents known as the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and other news outlets, told the court that WikiLeaks’ disclosures had shown Americans how they had been misled about US action in Iraq and Afghanistan just as his leaks, which also revealed previously secret information, did about the Vietnam War, The Guardian reported.

Ellsberg cited a US military video, which WikiLeaks published in 2010 under the title “Collateral Murder”, showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.

“I was acutely aware that what was depicted in that video deserved the term murder, a war crime,” he told London’s Old Bailey court via videolink. “I was very glad that the American public was confronted with this reality of our war.”

James Lewis, the lawyer representing the US authorities, said Assange was not wanted for publishing the 2007 video, but for disclosing a small number of documents with the unredacted names of sources or informants, The Guardian reported.

Lewis said many of these had suffered harm or threats because they had been named. He said some had disappeared, although he conceded that there was no evidence that this was directly linked to WikiLeaks’ publication.

“How can you possibly say … that there is no evidence that Mr Assange’s publication of WikiLeaks put anyone in danger? That’s just pure nonsense,” Lewis said.

Ellsberg, who was himself charged with breaking the espionage law in a case that was later dismissed, said there was no evidence of physical harm or deaths because of the leaks, The Guardian reported.

Earlier, John Goetz, an investigative reporter who worked for Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine on the first publication of the documents in 2010, said Assange was careful to ensure that the names of informants in hundreds of thousands of leaked secret US government documents were never published.

Goetz said WikiLeaks was frustrated when a password that allowed access to the full, unredacted material was published in a book by Guardian reporters in February 2011.

Assange’s lawyers argue that he would not receive a fair trial in the United States and that the charges are politically motivated.

They have also said he would be a suicide risk if sent to the United States, where they say he could be sentenced to 175 years in prison.

In 2012, Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was accused of sex crimes.

He always denied the charges and they were later dropped. After seven years, he was dragged from the embassy by British police in 2019 and then jailed for skipping bail related to the Swedish case. He has remained in prison ever since.

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world’s first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now. 

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Trump Flails In Attempt To Defend High-Risk, Indoor Campaign Rally In Nevada

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Republican presidential Donald Trump listens to a question as he appears at the "Retired American Warriors" conference during a campaign stop in Herndon, Virginia, U.S. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Donald Trump attempted to defend his decision to hold an indoor campaign rally in Henderson, Nevada, on Sunday by blaming Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) and ignoring the possibility that he’s risking Americans’ health.

Speaking with the Las Vegas Review-Journal after the rally, Trump didn’t answer a question about attendees potentially getting COVID-19; instead, he talked about how he isn’t putting his own health at risk.

Here’s the line of questioning from Review-Journal White House correspondent Debra Saunders:

Aren’t you concerned about getting COVID in an enclosed room?

“No, I’m not concerned.”

What about people here?

“I’m more concerned about how close you are,” he said, ignoring the question and gesturing to Saunders’ proximity.

Sorry about that.

“Because you know why?” Trump continued. “I’m on a stage that’s very far away. And so I’m not at all concerned.”

Nevada hasn’t permitted gatherings of more than 50 people since May, a guideline based on White House recommendations, so the Trump rally openly violated that order. Sisolak condemned the “reckless and selfish” action on Twitter.

The president claimed that Sisolak had prevented the campaign’s use of six outdoor venues, thereby forcing Trump to rally supporters inside the Xtreme Manufacturing facility, which Trump’s friend Don Ahern owns. The Trump campaign estimated that about 5,000 people attended.

However, the accusation that Sisolak was actively obstructing Trump from holding outdoor rallies doesn’t seem to hold water: Trump held an outdoor rally in northern Nevada just the night before. The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

While it is true the Trump campaign couldn’t hold a planned outdoor rally at a hangar near McCarran International Airport, it was the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority that canceled the event over concerns the 5,000-person rally would interfere with the airport’s normal operations. Sisolak disavowed any involvement in the decision.

“This has nothing to do with politics,” airport authority CEO Daren Griffin said in a statement to the Reno Gazette-Journal. “The letter we sent is about directives and safety and not political campaigns. We would hold our tenants to the same standard whether it was a Democratic or Republican rally or any other type of gathering.”

Trump last held an indoor rally in June in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The event “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases in the following weeks, according to Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart. It’s possible Herman Cain, who died from COVID-19 in July, contracted the virus at the event, which he boasted about attending without wearing a mask. Huffington

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