Busing? We’re really going to talk about busing? In 2019? What else does Kamala Harris have in mind? Mood-ring subsidies? A federal bureau of pet rocks? Is she going to create a strategic reserve of polyester bell-bottoms?
It was reasonable, even amusing, for Senator Harris to bring up busing during the Democratic-party debate last Thursday. She needed a blunt instrument with which to wallop Joe Biden upside the head, preferably while inserting herself into the narrative as the woebegone victim of his benighted policies. Harris knows Biden has been winning big among black voters and has a huge lead over her in South Carolina. The best way to bring him down is to paint him as a racist. She started with a class piece of apophasis: “I do not believe you are racist,” she told Biden, before explaining why everyone else should believe that he was. Biden’s recently expressed fond feelings about the racist (Democratic) senators he used to have lunch with? Deeply troubling. Segue to the suffering she had personally endured at the hands of Mean Joe B. when, by opposing busing in the 1970s, he ruthlessly sought to block her from the education she needed as an adorable six-year-old in pigtails. As one Twitter wag noted, by the time this beautifully performed little monologue had ended, Senator Harris looked like she might have to prosecute herself for murdering Biden.
The tactic was entirely understandable. Textbook, even. What was amazing was that, after the debate, Harris swiveled from using busing as a means of assailing Biden’s character and judgment to praising busing itself as a wonderful proposal for 2019 America.
“I support busing,” she said a few days later. “Listen, the schools of America are as segregated, if not more segregated, today than when I was in elementary schools. Where states fail to do their duty to ensure equality of all people, and in particular where states create or pass legislation that created inequality, there’s no question that the federal government has a role and a responsibility to step up.”
Hear that, parents of America? President Kamala Harris would use federal power to yank your children out of their schools and hustle them to some other zone because she, Kamala Harris, is disappointed in the racial mix you have created in America’s classrooms. Forget how much you may have spent to buy a house in a particular neighborhood because it brought access to a particular school system. Forget how much you’ve paid in property taxes to fund those schools. Kamala Harris thinks your kids belong in some other school, maybe one far away and maybe offering a far less valuable education. Details to be worked out later. Trust her.
Harris would have done less damage to her presidential prospects if she suggested that everyone who owns an SUV should be forced to swap it for a 1976 Ford Pinto. At least if she had done that she wouldn’t be suggesting you’re racist for preferring the status quo. In the necropolis of dead progressive ideas, forced busing of schoolchildren to other districts in order to satisfy the whims of social planners seemed among the unlikeliest to rise from its tomb at this moment. It’s not like Democrats needed to conjure its spirit. It was such a disaster the last time it was tried that even the Left gave up on it. Yet, like socialism, busing is a zombie idea that is up and on the rampage.
Busing is such an antique notion that pollsters don’t even bother to ask about it anymore. A 1973 Gallup poll showed only 5 percent of Americans agreeing that busing was the best way to integrate schools. A 1999 Gallup poll found 82 percent opposition to busing. Black Americans saw some pluses and some minuses; a small plurality opposed it in 1999. Among white Americans, the hostility was virtually unanimous. Unfortunately for the Democratic party, electoral success in 2020 depends heavily on not scaring white suburban voters such as those who backed it in 2018. Harris has now twice been caught live on national television telling voters she wanted to abolish their private health insurance, each time insisting afterward that she got her words wrong or misheard the question. Now, to busing, she is delivering paeans that can’t be explained away as the product of confusion under the hot TV lights.
Democrats do best when they stick to promising voters free stuff and keep quiet about the social engineering. Yet the social engineering is the more important goal. The free stuff is just the means to the end of remaking society along progressive lines, about healing our poor diseased souls. This is why Rahm Emanuel let slip that we should never let a crisis go to waste. It’s what Barack Obama meant when he said his imminent election was about “fundamentally transforming” the United States.
Do Americans want their kids ripped out of their own school districts? Nope, no more than they want to be ripped away from private health insurers. Should Harris make it to a national ticket, she will of course drop her insane bid to be the Doctor Frankenstein of busing while the Democratic party’s media arm — a.k.a. most of the media — will do everything it can to cover for her. Forget what she said, the media will tell the voters. I have a feeling someone will remind them.
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