The “Health” Issue: Why the fascination with presidential candidates’ health raises a more significant concern

For the past couple of weeks, most media outlets and news publications have been fascinated with a specific topic: Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton’s health. Why did she really stumble in New York City? What is pneumonia and why did Hillary have this illness? What about when she suffered a concussion? Can Mrs.Clinton really be the President of the United States if she keeps getting sick?

The media coverage about Hillary’s recent and past health-related issues are mixed. While accusations of her covering up the illnesses continue to be expressed strongly, so has the normalcy of “being sick” argument. Her most recent experience suffering from pneumonia provided Republican Presidential hopeful Mr. Donald Trump the opportunity to show his “legitimate” state of health on national television.  Dr. Mehmet Oz, famed television doctor and host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” shared Mr. Trump’s health test results with the world: he was deemed fit to be the next leader of the free world.

Instead of health being a legitimate topic of discussion, it is the cause of ridicule, torment and spectacle.

The phenomenon of the much-discussed issue of health brings up the issue of transparency and credibility: do we want a candidate that may suffer some sick days but fights for minorities, women and immigrants rights? Or do we want a leader that may be more healthy and stronger physically, but promotes arguably hateful views and opinions? Is illness a sign of vulnerability or does it make a candidate more relatable? Does this draw attention to women’s rights and health issues or does it re-introduce the debate of whether a woman is “tough” enough to be elected?

These questions will be hot topics of debates throughout the next couple and final months of the electoral campaign.  For now, looking beyond the unhealthy episodes and thinking long-term impact is critical.

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