Are you terrified yet? Maybe you should be. The most frightening aspect of this campaign is that we have one candidate admitting to temporary insanity and the other showing every evidence of permanent mental disability. Media seems to have a lot of fun with the silly gaffes candidates make, exploding figurative teapots with major tempests.
This is not that. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump represent the challenge faced by the body politic when our most powerful and influential people suffer from dementia or other serious personality and mental disorders. This week, Hillary Clinton chalked up lying to the media as merely “short circuiting.” However, her memory seems to fail her at other convenient times. Should we take her at her word that her lies are just a matter of being a scatter-brained old lady? If so, then we have to face the possibility that her alleged health issues might include age-related mental illness or at best, the early stages of dementia.
Donald Trump, as if to take advantage of Clinton’s “short circuit” gaffe is making her mental stability a political issue. Pots and kettles across the fruited plane are having a good belly laugh over that one. Early in the primaries, prominent mental health experts expressed concern that Trump may be a serious head case in his own right. He’s been labeled a narcissist by just about every critic with a keyboard or a microphone. But when a panel of respected people in the field clinically diagnose him with “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, people should take notice. It may be time to demand that both candidates release their mental health records over the past five years. Perhaps, they should also submit to weekly drug tests until the election. Any objective observer would conclude if they’re not crazy, they at least have a good buzz on.
If you’ve been on Facebook or Twitter for more than a half an hour, you’ve likely seen a meme circulating that shows congresspeople from both parties who have been in office longer than many of us have been alive. Some are well into their eighties. There are no term limits for these leaders. Once in, their incumbency all but entitles them to remain in office until natural death — and long after their fitness to serve has expired. We wink and snicker when we hear stories of geriatric senators sleeping in the middle of a fiery debate or the elderly campaigner who cannot remember what state he’s in.
Such situations may be funny if it’s crazy Uncle Bob on a TV sitcom who left his car keys in the medicine cabinet. Not when the people suffering from the impairments of age are making policy. What about the two doddering fools seeking the highest office in the land? Should someone with dementia or a serious psychological disorder have access to the most powerful military on earth? For now, only pundits and a handful of reporters covering the campaign are asking such questions, and only in hushed tones behind the rope line. We may have crossed the Rubicon. The time to determine in a provable way the fitness of our leaders to serve has already passed. Not just in matters of policy, experience and character, but in their physical and mental health. Failing to do so could place our nation — and the world — in serious jeopardy on January 21st.