News & Politics

Is Bernie Sanders Racist? His 'Every Major Country on Earth' Talking Point Excludes Billions

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a campaign rally in Dearborn, Mich., Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

If President Donald Trump suggested that China, India, Sudan, the Congo, Thailand, Brazil, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Somalia didn’t count as “major countries,” the press would excoriate him for being a vile racist. Yet Sen. Bernie Sanders (S-USSR) repeatedly excludes these — and dozens of other countries — from consideration as “major countries on Earth” in order to badmouth the United States.

“Every other major country on Earth has achieved universal health care. Let me repeat that: every other every other major country on Earth has achieved universal health care,” Bernie insisted in a tweet representing one of his major talking points for Medicare for All. He consistently uses the “every major country on Earth” talking point to compare the U.S. unfavorably to other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The OECD is a useful barometer for Sanders because most of the countries represented in the OECD are wealthy, much smaller than the U.S., and more socialist than America. They also happen to be mostly white countries, in comparison to the countries Sanders excludes from consideration, which are mostly non-white.

The OECD consists of 36 countries, mostly in Europe. The European members are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Europe accounts for 27 countries.

Of the remaining nine countries, five are mostly white: Australia, Canada, Chile (64 percent white), New Zealand, and the United States. That leaves Israel, Japan, Mexico, and South Korea. Not one OECD country has a majority black population.

As of 2017, the OECD countries only included 1.3 billion of the Earth’s 7.53 billion. Yet Bernie Sanders appears to think that the countries housing more than 6.2 billion people are not “major countries on Earth.”

Sanders claims he adopts this barometer in order to compare apples to apples. After all, the U.S. is far wealthier than most of the countries outside the OECD. Yet the U.S. is also far larger than any other OECD country, and the other OECD countries rely on American military spending to keep the peace.

Furthermore, as The Washington Examiner reported, one of the reasons the U.S. spends more on health care than other OECD countries has to do with American doctors making more money than their counterparts elsewhere, due to the comparatively more free-market system in the U.S.

Sanders’ claim that America has the highest child poverty rate of “almost every major country on Earth” also relies on only looking at the OECD numbers and ignoring the vast populations of Africa, India, and China, among many others. While childhood poverty is a problem, there are many reasons to doubt the inflated statistics radicals like Bernie often employ to make it seem comparable to child poverty in countries like Mexico.

Contrary to Bernie’s claims, America stacks up extremely well against other major countries on Earth. Would people really rather live in China, India, Indonesia, or Pakistan? (Indonesia and Pakistan are the fourth- and fifth-largest countries by population after the U.S.)

I don’t actually think Bernie Sanders is a racist — and I don’t think Trump is a racist, either. But Bernie is getting a pass on a deceptive talking point that Trump would never get in a million years.

America is far from perfect, but Bernie Sanders has adopted a deceptive barometer in order to make the U.S. seem far worse than it is. Furthermore, if liberals were to apply an equal standard to Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, they would be constantly condemning Bernie as a racist for discounting so many black, brown, and Asian countries as somehow less than “major.”

Black countries matter, too, Bernie.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.