Should Americans Care About the Health of Their Candidates?

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

We’ve all seen and shared the concerns over the mental and physical acuity of President Biden. At times he seems frail and absent-minded, to say the least. His stumbles and bumbles have left many asking if Biden is well enough to execute the duties of his office.


A similar situation is brewing in the Pennsylvania senate race with candidate John Fetterman. Fetterman suffered a stroke earlier this year, and his recovery has thrown into question his fitness for the job. MSNBC reporter Dash Burns says it seemed as though the former Braddock mayor “had a hard time understanding our conversations” in a recent interview.

The campaign and Fetterman apologists in the media have responded to the report by claiming that he has no cognitive issues, but has experienced hearing loss from the stroke and depends on closed captions when interviewing. Some have accused Burns of being “ableist” for her description of their encounter, saying other press outlets have interviewed him with no issues. Burns claims she was only reporting on her particular encounter with the candidate, pointing out they were the first press team to interview Fetterman in person since he’d opened up his schedule to the press.

There are many on the left, particularly in the media, who find questions about a politician’s personal health irrelevant or offensive (unless that politician is Donald Trump drinking a glass of water with two hands). They say health issues are personal (unless you’re refusing a COVID vaccine) and none of the public’s business.


You’ll recall similar arguments when Trump accused Hillary Clinton of being in poor health during their 2016 presidential runs, and likewise with Biden in 2020.

For the average citizen, health privacy is very important. However, when people run for an elected office, it is their duty to assure the public that they will be able to serve out their entire term should they be elected. Americans are not voting for replacements or appointees should that elected official succumb to previously known health issues. They are voting for that particular candidate to represent them. If there is a possibility a serious health condition could effect their time in office, candidates are obligated to disclose that information.

Think of some of the elections you’ve been most excited about. Sometimes it’s been because of a fascinating personality or engaging demeanor. Sometimes it’s because you really love their passion for a certain policy or political position. Sometimes it is a combination, sometimes it’s because they’re just a snappy dresser. Whatever your reasons, you were voting for the person, not the title.

It stands to reason you would want that person to be the one who fills the entire term of the office in question. That’s the person who captured your attention. That’s the person you believe will be the best representative.


Public office is a service. Elections are more than voting, they are also a test, a way for candidates to prove they are up to the task of serving their constituents. If one’s health status could possibly affect their service, it is vital for voters to know that information. They have the right to have all the information possible. Then the decision of whether or not the candidate’s health matters will be up to them…not the media.


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