Debate hangover: Is third party the answer?

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of interviews with Robin Brown (left in photo) and Sarah Shrader, two women from opposite sides of the political divide who are active in efforts to improve the Grand Valley’s economy and quality of life.

This project was inspired by a recent Bloomberg News Service story, “Friends Across Party Lines, United in Dismay.”

The following exchanged occurred at Main Street Bagels on Tuesday, Sept. 27, following the first presidential debate.

Sentinel: What did you think about the first debate between these two embattled candidates?

RB: Trump did a great job for the first 15 minutes, and then he fell apart over the birther issue. Then, for him to brag about opening a club and letting blacks and Muslims in and claiming to be so proud of that, I nervously started giggling. It was so bad.

SS: It was like watching a Borat movie. You can’t stop watching it, while you’re thinking to yourself how horrible it is. And the sniffing? What was that?

RB: In the beginning of the debate, he started talking about the job loss at home due to an import/export imbalance. That hit home. That sounds like something Americans can understand and get behind as a change in policy if he should choose to do that. But it broke down from there.

SS: A good leader assembles a team around him that knows a lot about the things he doesn’t know. He (Trump) would not do that.  He thinks his 10-year-old grandson is some kind of computer hacking genius. It just demonstrates how little he understands about these issues, so he would put some dunce into cyber security and say, ‘He’s terrific. He’s big league and he’s gonna do great.’


Sentinel: Does this kind debate performance drive you to consider third party candidates?

RB: I still think a vote for the third party candidate is not a throwaway vote. I think if enough people voted their conscience and voted for the third party candidate — not that he has a chance of winning — but it sends a message to the other parties that what they are doing is not representing the majority of Americans. So whenever people say ‘A vote for Gary Johnson is a vote for Hillary,’ I totally disagree. It’s a protest vote.

SS: I feel like your protest vote will end up being a vote for Trump. Democrats are going to vote for Hillary. Reasonable Republicans are not going to vote for Trump. So, if there were no third parties, she would be a shoo-in.

RB: I have accepted that one of those two people will be our next president, and I don’t think that’s OK. So I will protest that. I don’t like the direction the country is going, and I know what we’re getting with Hillary — more of the same. I certainly don’t think Trump is capable of being president, but I’m not sure that is worse than more of the same. I’m not rewarding the Republicans and the Democrats for putting up these two candidates.

Sentinel: The country has returned to pre-recession employment levels and the stock market has doubled. Would more of the same be so bad?

RB: We’re headed to a place where more people rely on the government than are contributing. Once you have all those people relying on the government, they will continue to vote those policies. We will get to a point where we can’t go back.

SS: Don’t you think the reason we have more people relying on the government is because the wage gap is so large? Because the top 1 percent (which is a loaded term in itself) is accumulating all the wealth? That’s why the Bernie message resonated. We’re eliminating the middle class. Even middle class people are having to rely on the government.

RB: Yeah, but the government has gotten huge. The number of people who work for the government has gotten huge. Everyone has to justify their jobs, so regulation increases and it becomes this enormous thing that grows and grows.

SS: I totally agree with you.


Sentinel: This presidential election experience has been more acrimonious and offensive than any in modern history. Where is the anger coming from?

SS: The anger and the animosity and the disrespect? I want to know how that dialogue started because that’s the hardest part about raising kids right now for me. Even if I screw up, let’s say I cut someone off on the road accidentally, the first thing they do is honk their horn, give me the finger and scream at me. I’m thinking, what happened? I made a mistake. I’m a human being. It’s as if the immediate reaction is that everyone is an idiot. It’s this fear and anger that I don’t understand. I see my kids watching it, and it makes me sad that they have to grow up in a world full of people who are so disrespectful — and uncouth.

RB: Someone asked me recently if my politics had changed since I left the military. I think it has. I think it has brought me more to the center because, the military is more of a right-wing institution, so it’s comfortable to be of a like mind in that environment. But once I left the military and I’m dealing with people of all political stripes, it makes you realize that people can have different viewpoints and disagree, but still be working toward the same goals.

SS: That’s exactly what being a business owner has done for me. It’s brought me more to the center. I got my undergraduate degree in environmental policy. I was a committed environmentalist. And I got my graduate degree in education. But being a business owner, it makes you realize that some people do take advantage of the system. When you run a business, sometimes you see the government getting involved unnecessarily. Overregulation hurts our industry, and we are just trying to do something that’s good by getting people to actively enjoy the outdoors. Government overreach makes our work more challenging.


Sarah Shrader is a Democrat who started a successful zip line manufacturing company in town. Robin Brown is a Republican who served eight years in the military, did two tours in Iraq and who now owns a local public relations company in downtown Grand Junction.


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