The real reason Hillary’s health should matter

Let’s quit playing games. It’s time that Hillary Clinton was forthcoming about her health.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, nor a jaded conservative who believes that voting for the Clintons is tantamount to electing Frank Underwood as my representative. I am a left-leaning millennial, one who will likely cast his ballot for former Secretary Clinton.

But I also think we have the right to know who we’re electing, and if that person, should he or she be elected, is physically able the fulfill the duties of our nation’s highest office.

Rumors about Clinton’s health have dogged her for a while now. But for the most part, they have appeared to be more the invention of angry Republicans than legitimate questions of her fitness to serve. But her sudden, stumbling exit from a 9/11 memorial service and the hours that followed provided legs to those concerns.

Her reaction was, unfortunately, emblematic of the way she has handled many of the controversies she has faced along the campaign path. Her entourage drove her to her daughter’s apartment, where she spent a few hours and made a brief public appearance afterwards. Soon, the Clinton campaign was admitting that the former secretary of state had been diagnosed with pneumonia a few days before.

I’m not particularly concerned that Clinton has pneumonia; it’s hardly life-threatening, especially when treated by the world-class doctors that come with the territory of being a major presidential candidate. But the fact that she refused to disclose this ailment, all the while attending a major ceremony and coming into contact with dozens of people, is jarring.

So I’m asking Hillary Clinton to be honest with the American electorate about the health conditions she has, whatever they may be. At this point, some Clinton supporters might exclaim, “Well, Trump hasn’t even given us specific test results or, frankly, a legitimate-looking doctor’s letter. Why should we expect Clinton do offer anything more than she has already done?”

If that’s your viewpoint, I cannot blame you for it. But these whataboutisms, insistence that Trump abide by Clinton’s standards or vice versa, help no one. They just provide justification to deprive us of information about both candidates. My hope is that before November rolls around, we get a better understanding of how healthy Mr. Trump is. Seeing that he is yet to release his tax returns, a promise he made in the heat of the fabricated Obama birther controversy, I’m not optimistic.

However, Secretary Clinton has an opportunity to break her silence by explaining what befell her at the memorial service, the coughing fits that preceded it and perhaps even answer some questions from the media. Not only that, she can begin to repair the image of opacity that has frustrated voters who dislike Trump but cannot put faith her.

The experience that introduced me to American politics in earnest was Aaron Sorkin’s epic “The West Wing.” President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet, the show’s fiery protagonist, secretly labors under the strains of multiple sclerosis until its symptoms are too obvious to conceal. The result is a national scandal, threats of impeachment and embarrassment to the office. If Clinton carries hidden ailments into office, the subsequent repercussions will make Bartlet’s tribulations look enviable.

Just as Donald Trump has no constitutional obligation to release his tax returns, Hillary Clinton has none to explain her medical state. But both can change the narratives surrounding their campaigns should they do so, particularly Clinton; an unscripted media appearance would help her campaign go a long way towards putting this latest scandal in the past and returning to critiques of Mr. Trump’s nebulous policies and dubious personal details.