If Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders becomes the 46th President of the United States, the odds strongly favor his Vice President becoming the 47th. After all, that is how the 25th Amendment handles succession when the President dies in office, and Bernie Sanders is unlikely to survive his first term.
That sounds incredibly harsh, doesn’t it?
Well, harsh or not it is reality, and a dose of reality is what Americans need before the primaries reach Super Tuesday. Democratic voters are in the process of choosing the candidate best suited to defeat Donald Trump this November and the one most capable of leading the country (and the world) in undoing the damage Trump and his associates have wreaked. With Sanders assuming the mantle of front-runner after the first two contests, voters need to know the truth about Bernie Sanders health to be able to make an honest assessment.
There is no room in the discussion for breaking it to you gently.
There is no room for looking on the bright side.
There is only reality, and that reality is stark and cold.
On October 1, 2019 Bernie Sanders had a myocardial infarction while campaigning in Nevada. A myocardial infarction (MI) is the medical term for a heart attack. Sanders subsequently had a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI, sometimes described as an angioplasty) where his doctors placed two stents in a blocked coronary artery.
Bernie Sanders had turned 78 years old just a few weeks prior to that heart attack.
According to the Journal of the American Heart Association, patients aged 75 or older who suffer a myocardial infarction which is treated with a percutaneous coronary intervention had a median survival rate of 3.1 years. You can read the results of a 2018 study here.
In other words, Bernie Sanders is as likely to be dead by the time the midterm elections roll around on November 8th, 2022 as he is to be out campaigning.
Also noted in the study was that patients over the age of 75 who suffer a myocardial infarction treated with a percutaneous coronary intervention saw their remaining life expectancy reduced from 11.9 years prior to the incident to 5.3 years after. Coincidentally, 5.3 years from the date of Bernie Sanders’ heart attack would be January 19, 2024 which would be the last full day of Sanders’ first term.
And remember, none of the people in that study were subjected to the rigors of a yearlong presidential campaign followed by a term in the most stressful job in the world, right?
In late December, the Sanders campaign released letters from three doctors offering their opinions that Sanders is fit to campaign for the presidency and to serve in that capacity should he win.
Remember when Donald Trump’s “doctor” Harold Bornstein released a letter instead of Trump’s actual medical records? You remember the one where Bornstein stated, “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” Turns out Trump dictated the letter for the doctor to sign and less than four years later was rushed to Walter Reed hospital under circumstances which have never been fully explained but which sounded suspiciously like a morbidly obese septuagenarian guy having a heart attack.
No one is accusing Bernie Sanders and his letter-writing doctors of a similar offense, nor is anyone questioning the doctors’ combined medical evaluation, but given that Sanders is five years old than Trump and has a documented history of coronary artery disease, perhaps primary voters would feel more comfortable with something more substantive than a few letters?
In September 2019, just weeks before his heart attack, Bernie Sanders promised host Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, “The American people have a right to know whether the person they’re going to be voting for president is healthy. And we will certainly release our medical records before the primary.”
Back on Meet the Press last weekend, Sanders shared a different view, “I mean, you can start releasing medical records and it never ends. We’ve released a substantive part — all of our background. We have doctors who have, cardiologists confirming that I am in good health. I am in good health.”
So do the voters have a right to know, as Senator Sanders expressed last September before his heart attack, or do voters need to take his word for it as he said last week?
Given the overwhelming likelihood that the person Bernie Sanders chooses to be his Vice President will assume the presidency before Sanders even finishes a first term, and given that Sanders now categorically refuses to release his medical records as promised, future primary and caucus voters deserve to know NOW who Sanders will choose to fill the Vice Presidential role on the ticket, or at the very least, the shortlist of candidates he is considering and vetting.
The primary process is allowing us to pick the 46th president.
Voters should not leave it up to Bernie Sanders alone to pick the 47th.