Hillary’s Health: Is it Time for More Transparency in the Health of Our Presidential Candidates?
The health of presidential candidates has been the topic of conversation on both sides of the political spectrum, as of late. Hillary Clinton (D) has been under intense scrutiny ever since her syncopal episode at a 9/11 memorial ceremony. Ms. Clinton was rushed into her private vehicle and taken to her daughter’s nearby apartment. Later, a campaign spokesperson revealed that Ms. Clinton had been diagnosed with pneumonia, two days prior. This incident, combined with recent coughing fits, has raised the eyes of the public as to the overall health of the Democratic presidential candidate.
There have been popular conspiracy theories for years regarding the health of Hillary Clinton. I do not plan discussing or even acknowledging these assertions. Rather, I believe it is more important to discuss a change in current political traditions. Presidential candidates should provide some form of confirmation by a group of physicians demonstrating that they are physically and mentally fit to serve as President of the United States.
Obviously, amending laws to make this proposition mandatory is incredibly involved and generally unlikely. However, this change can still result from a shift in the social standard, if the candidates are pressed by the people and media.
Why is this important from a bioethical standpoint? A sudden illness displayed to the public should not be the incident that prompts a release of medical records. The personal health of a presidential candidate is equally important as his policies. Trade negotiations, international crises, and other aspects of foreign policy suffer when a president is physically or mentally unfit to meet with other world leaders. At home, the sudden death or incapacitation of a president would rock the American political structure to its core.
As an American citizen, it seems almost morally wrong to elect a president who may fall into the aforementioned health category. I recognize that every citizen has a right to his privacy, and HIPPA laws do not allow healthcare workers to share private information regarding a patient’s health. However, Hillary Clinton’s recent medical episodes have prompted the need for change. All major presidential candidates should be assessed by a group of doctors in order to confirm that the candidate is fit to serve. An unhealthy candidate’s condition could worsen throughout the election cycle considering the intensity of the campaign trail, risking the safety of the candidate themself. The findings of these professional assessments should be released to the public for the sake of the people, the candidate, and the country.