I hope Hillary Clinton gets well soon, not just for her own good, but so she can keep calling out the truth about Donald Trump.
On Sunday, the Democratic presidential nominee was seen wobbling and nearly collapsing during an early exit from a 9/11 memorial service. This came after a week of speculative uproar over a persistent cough that left many questioning her health. It was also on the heels of Clinton making a controversial declaration that "you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the 'basket of deplorables.' Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it."
As for Clinton's collapse, her doctor confirmed that she was diagnosed with pneumonia last Friday. That news has bolstered the suspicions of many, namely that Clinton was covering up an illness that her campaign had previously written off as "allergies."
The first thing that came to mind, for me, was that Clinton must be determined beyond words to campaign for a full weekend through pneumonia. If her cough was a symptom, that means she had been battling it for more than a week. In other words, Clinton did more in a weekend with pneumonia than most of us will do this month.
"If she were a man," my dad said. "We'd all be talking about how she's tough as nails, how she'd do anything to win."
But it also showed the ugly side of this brutal presidential election, where in all likelihood Clinton viewed the idea of taking a weekend off — especially on the 15-year anniversary of 9/11 — as simply not an option. Imagine the backlash if she had taken the weekend off? Everyone would have jumped on her for dishonoring the troops. Conspiracy theorists who were already claiming she had one year left to live would have gone bonkers with fake stories about her being on her death bed. In fact, those stories already exist.
Lost in the madness of her passing out — or as some fake Twitter doctors have put it: "having a neurological episode" — is the fact that Clinton has actually revealed far more about her health than Trump. She released a two-page medical record in July of 2015 that showed generally good health amidst hypothyroidism, seasonal pollen allergies, and the fact she, like millions of Americans, takes blood thinners.
Trump, who is two years older, has only shown the public a hilariously inept report from his gastroenterologist that said he'd be the "healthiest individual elected to the presidency."
The letter had a few major flaws: a non-working URL for the doctor's website. It started with a typo. The "doctor" describes "only positive results," which of course doesn't make any sense: positive results on some medical tests are a bad thing. A totally vague description of Trump's "strength and stamina," without describing how those things were tested. And then, the claim that he would be the "healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency," despite the fact this doctor has no history with any other presidential candidate.
But after Clinton's incident this week, Trump has vowed to release a new medical record soon. Even in that announcement, though, his comments should have thrown up red flags.
"I'll be handing out a paper with very large numbers, very detailed — hopefully good statistics," he said on CNBC. "I feel very confident. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't be telling you I did this, right?"
Maybe he's applying that same logic to his tax returns, which he has yet to reveal to the public.
As it stands, nobody seems to be worried about Trump's health. Clinton's health and campaign have been shrouded in mystery and deceit, too. Her pneumonia wasn't disclosed until after video of her seemingly fainting went viral. She hasn't held a press conference in months, and her distrust of the media is at an all-time high.
My hope, though, is that she comes back re-invigorated. The truth is, we need her. A perfect example is the controversial comments she made about Trump supporters: Clinton was right, and for some reason, nobody is acknowledging it except for her.
Clinton called half of Trump's supporters racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and Islamophobic. These are strong words, and they are surely offensive and an overstep for the segment of Trump's supporters who aren't any of those things, the ones Clinton acknowledged when she said there was another half that feels the government "has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they're desperate for change."
If I were a Trump supporter, Clinton's comments probably would have pissed me off. But interestingly, we have data to test her words about the bigotry that resides within many of Trump's supporters. Polling outfits regularly ask supporters of both presidential candidates how they feel about certain groups and topics. Here is what we know:
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll (a polling outfit Trump has frequently cited on Twitter), almost fifty percent of Trump's supporters described African Americans as more "violent" than white Americans, and 40 percent described African Americans as more "lazy" than white Americans. That's what we call racism.
Xenophobia is defined as an intense or irrational fear of people from other countries. A whopping 69 percent of Trump supporters view immigrants as a burden on the country, according to two Pew polls. That is a higher number than for any other presidential candidate whose supporters have been polled in this race, including Ted Cruz and John Kasich. And it runs contrary to the fact that most research tells us immigrants are good for the economy. On top of all that, Trump's most well-known policy proposal is a plan to build a giant wall on our southern border to keep out our Mexican neighbors we've had strong relationships with for centuries.
Homophobia? Yeah, they have that, too. 52 percent of Trump supporters still oppose gay marriage, despite it being the law of the land. Shockingly, 31 percent of Trump supporters are in favor of a ban of homosexuals from entering the United States, a statistic we learned from a recent Public Policy Polling (PPP) question.
Clinton also said half of Trump's supporters are Islamophobic. It should come as a surprise to nobody that the supporters of a candidate who suggested banning all Muslims from entering the United States support a ban on Muslims entering the United States. By definition, Islamophobia is the fear of Muslims. In fact, despite a potential ban being unconstitutional, 87 percent of Trump supporters think it's a good idea, according to an NBC News/Survery Monkey poll. Two-thirds of his supporters from the same poll held unfavorable views of American Muslims; and 65 percent of his supporters still believe Barack Obama is a Muslim, according to a PPP report.
Of all the things Clinton accused half of Trump supporters of being, only one is not currently supported by hard data: that they are sexist. But you don't need to look any further than Trump's long and storied history of sexism for evidence that he is no champion of women.
To my bafflement, the fact that Clinton's comments about Trump supporters are in many ways supported by hard data has not been acknowledged by anyone. Clinton apologized for her words and commentators have excoriated her for them, which I understand. In a divisive political campaign, more divisive rhetoric is the last thing we need.
Still, I want Hillary to get well soon — not just to hit the campaign trail for her own good, but for the country's good. The more we talk about her health, or Trump's health, or her "deplorables" comments, the less we will hear about what the two candidates actually plan on doing for the country. To be even more frank, I don't think her health, or Trump's, matters all that much: as most Americans know, electing a president isn't just electing an individual that may or may not get sick; it's electing a set of values, a party, a plan.
Right now, this presidential race is in the mud. Most Americans agree that neither candidate is a great choice, but if one of them is sitting at home the other is free to run wild and unchecked. Perhaps if Clinton gets back on the campaign trail, we'll put the health issues behind us. Maybe then we can get down to the issues that matter to Americans.
Cover photo: Flickr / Skidmore