by Alex Knepper
I want very badly for you to win this election. Politicians say during every election cycle that it is the most important election of their lifetime — but this time, at least for this 26-year-old’s short lifetime, it’s probably true. I also want you to know that I’ve taken a lot of heat for you: after a decade of exclusively — and very publicly — supporting Republicans, I chose this time to throw my support to you, a candidate passionately hated by many people I regard as friends and colleagues. I suspect I may have even closed certain professional doors by publicly supporting you. I’ve written three different op-eds supporting you for president and have defended you time and again on issues regarding the Clinton Foundation, Benghazi, and even your private server. At this point, I am not a fair-weather supporter.
So, understand the urgency in my voice when I say that, while I want very badly for you to win this election, I also want very badly for you to know that you screwed up very badly this time. You have once again failed to plan for a worst-case scenario, and once again it is because you decided to put your personal preference for privacy first. Personally, I don’t give much of a damn about most of the stuff people — especially reporters — drone on about regarding ‘transparency.’ I can’t stand how self-righteous they are about it. They sound overly pious, and their motives are usually questionable. I think most people would make wiser political decisions if they didn’t know as much about how the sausage is made — we both know that being 30% informed is worse than being 5% informed, and we both know very few people take the time and energy to get to 80% informed so they can understand the 30% in that broader context. And I know you think the press trumps up a whole lot of trash and whips the mob into a frenzy over nothing — and you’re totally right about that, too! They do that all the time. But for a lot of people, especially reporters, this kind of thing matters a lot — and — I’m being honest with you, right? — being open about current health ailments is far from unreasonable.
Here’s the thing: a reasonable degree of openness and public-mindedness not just in policy but also in personality is one of the demands of public life in a democracy. So it’s not that you’re being a liar, as your critics say. I really don’t think you are hiding something disqualifying. No — the problem you have is that you’re being selfish, because when you aren’t being open about this, your supporters end up having to waste all their time defending you over stupid bullshit, again and again, instead of talking about the future and the stark differences between what your presidency would look like and what Donald Trump’s would look like. Coming down with pneumonia right now is incredibly inconvenient and unfair, given the malicious rumors, and you’ve probably gotten away with hiding illnesses before. But this is a critical moment — and you have got to trust that enough voters will understand how to contextualize a president being sick. A certain degree of transparency is in your self-interest — it’s not just to throw bones to the press. You’re not going to be applauded for it, no — but you do it anyway, so you avoid incidents like this, which unsettle even your staunchest supporters and has them speculating unnecessarily.
The country doesn’t want Donald Trump. You are on the verge of winning the presidency practically by default. Now is the time when you have to use all the discipline you’ve cultivated over the last 68 years and put it to work to tame this tragic flaw. You can do this — you must do this. The stakes are simply too high.