Kamala Harris Wants to Bring Back Busing? Really?

Neal Waters/ZUMA

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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?

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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