Kamala Harris Wants to Bring Back Busing? Really?

Neal Waters/ZUMA

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Last year I wrote a piece for the magazine laying out the evidence that race anxiety had increased while Obama was in the White House and then started easing down when he left, despite Donald Trump’s best efforts to keep it going. As a result, I figured that it was perfectly safe for Democrats to talk about social justice generally and racial issues in particular. But I admit this wasn’t what I had in mind:

Let me just make a few points. First, forced busing during the ’70s prompted one of the biggest political backlashes of the past half century. By the end of it, Ronald Reagan was president and Reaganomics dominated America for the next 40 years. This was bad for everyone who wasn’t already rich, and it was especially bad for ethnic minorities.

Second, when Kamala Harris was a child she was bused . . . three miles. In lots of big cities, the bus rides were upwards of an hour each way. And it didn’t work. Virtually every city abandoned busing during the ’80s, and even Berkeley’s busing program was deep-sixed more than 20 years ago.

Third, what’s the point of pretending to be for it now? It’s not good politics and it’s mostly impossible policy anyway. In cities like New York and Los Angeles, African American and Latinx kids make up 80 percent of the population. You could spider web the city with Elon Musk’s hyperloops and you still wouldn’t be able to racially integrate the schools.

Harris needs a little more self-discipline. Her attack on Biden was effective, but why overdo it? Why not just say that demographic change has made busing an ineffective idea in most places so she favors other things now? Why not stop waffling on Medicare for All and tell us what she really believes? Why not ditch the pandering Green New Deal stuff and instead tell us what kind of serious action she supports?

I can dream, can’t I?

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate