From The Left: Vote or Keep Quiet (Opinion)

Image: Jay Phagan/Wikimedia Commons

By Dave Mulligan

As is so clearly implied in the title of my regular column here, my place on the political spectrum is over on the left side. I suppose we all start in the center, then drift in one direction or the other by being influenced, first by our parents, then by what we witness around us as we grow up. I’ve always been fascinated by how two people can watch the same exact situation and walk away with two diametrically opposing views. But that’s what makes us human and therein lies the endless complexity of politics.

Regardless of one’s position on the D — R spectrum, the level of participation in the process is what’s most important and is a very clear indicator as to the overall health of a democracy. Voter turnout fluctuates greatly, depending on many factors. Midterms, like the impending 2018 election this November, historically produce shamefully low voter turnout because folks just don’t think they’re that important.

Those same people, who’ve been guilty of this voter apathy, can often be heard months later when they complain about the politicians who’ve been elected and will whine that they don’t feel represented. Since they failed to vote, though, they’ve no right to gripe.

Reno’s 2017 Women’s March. Image: Ty O’Neil

To encourage voter turnout, I’ve always felt that election days should be national holidays and voting should be compulsory;  or, at least, incentivized with some sort of bonus or tax credit.

Again, I am clearly left-leaning and I have my favorites for whom I’ll be voting, first in the primary, then in November’s general election. But I do honestly hope that voters from both ends of the spectrum will get out and cast ballots on Election Day. That’s what makes an election as representational as it was originally designed to be. (The electoral college versus a popular vote is a debate for another day, but voter turnout in both scenarios is still vital in the legitimate selection of candidates as representatives of our nation’s citizens). If everybody were to vote, then complaints from the unsatisfied would fall largely on deaf ears because the true will of a democratically represented populace will have been implemented.

If you’ve been watching and reading the news at all recently, then you’re well aware, as I am, that a handful of issues and current events appear to portend what will be an unusually high voter turnout. As a Left-leaning voter, I’ll be honest and admit that I’m pleased to see the vocally progressive next generation demonstrate an unprecedented attitude of interest and passion for the election process and they’ll likely turn out in record numbers. If that ends up being the case — and if you agree with the argument I laid out above — there’ll be no legitimate grounds for complaint as the will of the populace will have been legitimately voiced and our representational democracy implemented. But whatever the outcome, I urge you all to participate. Vote, or keep quiet.


Dave Mulligan is a local Reno resident of over 25 years. He is a published author (Mulligan’s Wake), television producer and a left-leaning political activist (Masses Unite). He lives happily on the Truckee River and is the married father of three (his most important role, according to Dave).

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2 Comments

  1. This was a nice, balanced essay and a pleasure to read. It confirms the worth and dignity of opinions on both ends of the political spectrum. Good job, Mr. Mulligan! Unfortunately–and this is a small point–its conclusion that people who don’t vote do so out of sloth or apathy. Sometimes that’s not so. Sometimes the abstention vote, not yea or nay, is a deliberate act, a protest vote. I vote in every election. I vote for freedom. If I see no candidate for a position who stands up for freedom I will say a pox on both their houses, and I will abstain. I will protest.

  2. You need to preach to your democratic wisdoms in Congress who are presently opting to hide their votes. Fate and Republican Wisdom and votes have saved us from the disaster which would have been Hilary Clinton and her weird entourage.

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