On Saturday, November 11, 2016, Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, while attending a memorial service at the site of New York City’s 9-11 terrorist attack, wobbled unsteadily on her feet and had to be helped into a vehicle to take her at first to her daughter’s Manhattan apartment and then to her home in Chappaqua, NY.

Her physician later announced that Ms. Clinton has pneumonia.

The Clinton campaign apparatus, in typical fashion, continued to downplay the gravity of her behavior and its relevance to her health, announcing repeatedly that her coughing fits were the result of “allergies,” and that her near-fainting was a result of “overheating” from that day’s low-80s temperature.

This is obviously devastating news for the Democratic Party. Though one can now expect the Clinton campaign, and hordes of the party faithful, to minimize this threat to the candidate’s health – and consequently to her ability to perform adequately in one of the world’s most stressful jobs – only a fool would ignore the political implications of this news: many undecided voters will find themselves unable to cast a ballot for someone who they believe may die in office or who they believe will be incapacitated for repeated crucial decisions.

It is now a truism that this presidential election cycle has been one of the most unusual in the country’s history. This event only adds to that circumstance.

In my opinion, the Democratic Party now has the difficult, but overwhelmingly necessary responsibility, to decide on an alternate presidential candidate. It should move swiftly to be able to do this should it be deemed necessary, or even desirable.

Should such a damaging health assessment have been given the Republican Party’s presidential candidate, the party’s responsibility to present a viable candidate would be almost impossibly intricate.

For Democrats, the opposite is true. Only one candidate survived to contest the party’s nomination, and who achieved such notable enthusiasm and support that the party’s primary platform committee had to include many who espoused his principles, including the world’s most respected environmentalist Bill McKibben.

The Democratic Party must now act swiftly and decisively to be ready to name Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders as its candidate for President of the United States.

William Smithers
Santa Barbara