But the fight over busing remains scorched in my memory. As a result, I was floored when presidential candidate California Senator Kamala Harris decided to make Vice President Joe Biden's opposition to
forced busing an issue that proves he's out of step with public opinion, at least public opinion in the Democratic Party. Senator Harris is only a few years younger than me. Does she not remember how unpopular forced busing was back then, even among African-Americans?
|Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)|
In 1973, the same year Joe Biden entered the Senate Gallup asked Americans if they supported busing school children from one neighborhood to another as a way of desegregate schools. Only 4% of Americans supported that position. Busing wasn't popular with African-Americans either. Only 9% of black Americans said they supported busing. Over a quarter century later, in 1999, a poll by Gallup found that only 15% of the respondents supported transferring students from their home school as a remedy for segregation..
With the issue of busing well in the rear view mirror, politicians like Harris are free to rewrite, and grossly misrepresent, the history surrounding this contentious issue. Busing never resolved the issue of segregated schools that were a result of segregated, by law (de jure) or by choice (de facto), neighborhoods. Further, it had the effect of undermining and tearing apart families. In opposing forced busing and supporting alternatives remedies, Biden was simply representing the wishes of an overwhelming percentage of his constituents.
Senator Harris used the busing issue, and her own personal narrative about her being sent to a better school outside her neighborhood, to imply that Biden was opposed to school desegregation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ironically, a remedy that does address the problem of segregated schools, school choice, i.e. allowing students to attend schools outside their home school districts, is vehemently opposed by most Democratic politicians, including probably Harris.
Fortunately for Senator Harris, most people under the age of 50, do not know the history of busing as failed (and highly unpopular) social policy.
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