Joe Biden says he has nothing to atone for over his opposition to school busing in the 1970s. He adds that this is an issue with which 99 percent of Americans are unfamiliar.
Biden is right on the first count. He need not apologize for opposing a regime that was unwise and unpopular. Good for him for refusing to do so. I would be more impressed if he didn’t couch his refusal in an assertion that the public is ignorant.
As to whether the public is as ignorant as Biden says, it may have been true two weeks ago that few Americans were familiar with the busing issue. But after the Biden-Harris clash, many Democrats are familiar with it now. The degree to which they think busing was (or is) a good idea and the intensity with which they hold that belief are unknown. But the issue, oddly, is in play.
A more timely issue, though, is a 21st century near-equivalent of school busing — moving whole families to different neighborhoods for purposes of promoting racial balance. That issue falls under the Orwellian label “affirmatively furthering fair housing” (“AFFH”).
When Joe Biden was vice president, the Obama administration adopted AFFH regulations. Before it could do much to implement them, Donald Trump replaced Obama and installed Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Carson hasn’t rescinded the regs, but has“reinterpreted” them. So far, to my knowledge, the Obama administration’s AFFH project has been put on ice.
I’d like to hear Biden say whether he supports the idea of the federal government conditioning grants to localities on their willingness to require that a certain amount of housing in mostly White neighborhoods be occupied by African-Americans. If Biden says he does this, and I think he almost has to, I’d like to hear him explain why it’s a good idea whereas busing was a bad one.
There are distinctions between the two race-based programs (I think AFFH is an even worse idea than busing), so Biden shouldn’t be stumped by the question. However, in answering the two questions, he would likely create a big opening for President Trump in the general election. So too would Kamala Harria or any other Democrat who supports Obama’s AFFH initiative.
Moving families around to achieve government-mandated racial balance in neighborhoods is probably as unpopular among whites today as moving school children around to achieve court-mandated racial balance in schools was 40 years ago.