Clinton’s Health: Why Does It Matter?

Hillary Clinton’s health has been the chosen topic of many as of late. After the Democratic nominee stumbled at a 9/11 memorial, finding out later she had pneumonia, we have seen a multitude of attacks on Clinton’s health by political commentators as well as her opponent, Donald Trump. As the sole female candidate, throughout her campaign Clinton has been forced to deal with her fair share of injustice as a woman in the clear boy’s club that is Washington. Republicans have characterized Clinton as a shrew who is old, unemotional, and unfit to be President, all coming down to one fact: she is a woman.

Clinton’s recent incident that preceded her diagnosis has only served to further exemplify how much harder women must work to be taken seriously in the political world. Let us be reminded of the 1992 incident when then President George H.W. Bush vomited on the lap of then Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa of Japan at a state dinner in Miyazawa’s home country. Following this incident, comedians used the incident as fodder for their acts and the media at large was more concerned with the actual health of the president rather than his qualifications to continue running the country. The focus on Clinton has been clear: could this illness disqualify Clinton as capable of fulfilling her potential new position?

One might argue that this backlash on Clinton is apparent just because she is currently in the running to become our next president and thus is susceptible to such scrutiny–I beg to differ. The harsh reality is that sexism persists today; even in 2016, people will question a woman’s ability in comparison to a man’s, no matter how qualified she might be to do the job.

In this country, there is a definitive history of former political leaders with ailments that could have arguably interfered with their jobs. Theodore Roosevelt had epilepsy; John McCain was on a statin and had a history of melanoma; FDR had polio. As president, presidential candidate, and president respectively, these men were not questioned because of their health—if anything, they were applauded as brave and accomplished. To not see the disparity here between Clinton and her male predecessors is ludacris. The truth is that Clinton is just as healthy, if not healthier than a majority of her current male counterparts. Some prefer to live in denial of this rather than admit the fact that Clinton might be more qualified than her opponent.

Looking forward to November, I hope that we can treat both candidates justly and view them without a gender bias. Is this feasible? Doubtful. However, I am hopeful that we will see this change as we push forward toward social equality of the sexes in the U.S. In fact, former Republican President George H.W. Bush has just announced to a room of 40 people that he would vote for Hillary Clinton. If that does not speak for itself, than I do not know what will.

 

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