Transparency: when is there enough?

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Transparency, whether it concerns the ethics behind a business’ practices or even a political party’s agenda, is an increasingly important value in our society. Companies such as Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia are known and praised for their transparent, pay-it-forward business ideologies, so why should we expect anything less from our presidential candidates?

For the past week, Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton has been under the media’s radar for being diagnosed with pneumonia. According to the BBC, she only shared her illness with close friends and aides because she did not want her diagnosis exploited by opponents. The media has exploded with articles bashing her for not being up-front with her supporters. Has anyone forgotten that Clinton is a person with the right to privacy? HIPAA? Bueller?

While it is important that the presidential candidates release pertinent health information that may affect their ability to run, they should be entitled, as any citizen, to privacy. Clinton has agreed to release more information regarding her medical record. Meanwhile, former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman, Don Fowler, has already advised the party to select a potential successor for Clinton, in case she must retire due to poor health.

However, Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager for Republican Nominee Donald Trump, told MSNBC, “I don’t know why we need such extensive medical reporting when we all have a right to privacy,” while Trump pushes Clinton to publish detailed medical records. In his defense, he has a vague four paragraph letter by his lifelong doctor on his “astonishingly excellent” health.

If Clinton is expected to release personal health information, then Trump should be held to the same standard. Otherwise, Clinton was right in fearing her illness would be held against her. It is no wonder that she tried her best to keep hush her illness and power through the 9/11 ceremony she attended on Sunday; she did not want her absence to be misconstrued for being unpatriotic during one of America’s most prominent days of remembrance.

Ultimately, the presidential campaign season is a game, and Clinton’s illness will be used to frame her as a fragile woman, even though the focus should be on her politics, not her lungs. In business, when there is a product recall, companies are expected to immediately inform the public to protect consumers. Although she waited, Clinton informed the public of her illness even though, in her opinion she, “didn’t think pneumonia was a big deal.”