Like many of us, I’m watching the 2016 presidential race on tenterhooks, anxious to see the first female president elected and terrified at the prospect of seeing Donald Trump in the White House. Watching the footage of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wobble on Sunday made my stomach churn, not because I was worried that the rumors of her failing health were being proven true, nor because I was upset that she hadn’t been more transparent about it. My anxiety came from thinking about how badly the episode would play in this gauntlet of an election cycle.
In the latest row between the perhaps-too-secretive Clinton camp, the flame-throwing Trump camp, and the cacophonic cries of the press, demands have come for a more full disclosure of the Democratic candidate’s medical records. And while some believe that Clinton should reassure voters by releasing full medical records, I’m starting to wonder if whether we — that is, America — might not be better off in the dark.
My biggest concern is not a Fourth Amendment privacy issue — though that case has been made and should continue to be explored. To me, it's simply a case of my not trusting voters not to freak out at whatever is in those records.
The question of presidential disclosure is a tricky one. I, for one, would like to know if a potential president has a condition that would impair their ability to execute the duties of their office. I would like to know whether a candidate who deplores the failures of government is paying their fair share of taxes.
Let’s assume for a moment that there is something in there that could be potentially damaging to the candidate’s chances of victory in November. Given that she’s been coherent and knowledgeable during this campaign, given that she’d been going for over a year before there were any major health flags going up (throw pillows notwithstanding), and given that the alternative to a sick-Clinton presidency is a healthy-Trump one, part of me wonders if I and the rest of the country wouldn't be better off not knowing what’s lurking in her health records.
Even if Clinton had a condition that would make her a less active president than, say, Barack Obama (who is 13 years her junior), she would still be appointing Supreme Court Justices, pushing for progressive policies, and safeguarding the achievements of the Obama administration, including advances in LGBT rights and healthcare. Also, she wouldn't be President Trump.
I realize that this argument is probably seen as similar to one that conservatives who are less-than-thrilled about Trump are making for voting for him — it's better than the alternative. If releasing Clinton's full health records gives way to more speculation over insignificant or poorly understood health concerns and, thus, grants Trump a voting leg-up in a tightening race, I can't back it. In this case, I’m OK with remaining a little oblivious.