9 Upsides Of A Trump Victory

The Donald. Who would have thought. Well, the alt-right did, apparently, which makes them the next Nate Silver, I guess. Good luck with that. The next few days and weeks will be fun as the entire media and political bubble simultaneously tries to come to terms with a Trump presidency and their own misjudgements and miscalculations.

The First Couple-elect (source)

For what it’s worth, pengovsky did maintain that in politics a week is a long time and that the race will be close but yes, I did expect Clinton to ultimately prevail. So maybe it’s best that initial analyses are left to others. Football bloggers seem like a good option.

Having said that, there are a few upsides to the entire connundrum

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Dear Lord, Please Let It Be A Landslide

As the voting in the US presidential elections is coming to an end so is – one hopes – one of the ugliest campaigns in recent memory. OK, it’s true that the past eighteen months have brought us a couple of valuable lessons. Pengovsky wrote on those recently for domestic consumption but suffice it to say it boils down to infosec for seniors and learning the difference between a cunt and a pussy. But on the whole there’s this uneasy feeling that this could turn ugly yet.

270 to win. (source)

On the whole, the arsenal deployed in US elections is by far more diverse than anything we’re used to this side of the pond, let alone this sorry excuse for a country. Take this legal challenge of The Donald‘s campaign in Nevada where voting was extended on account of long lines. Sure, the judge threw out the suit post-haste, but that wasn’t really the goal. What the campaign aimed to do is to force his opponent’s campaign into making a stupid move of their own and possibly profiting on it one way or another. Of course the Clinton campaign is much too good a machine to fall for that, but the general rules of political engagement state that the enemy must be buzzed at all times. So, nothing wrong with that.

What is wrong with this Trump move however is the same thing that was wrong with his entire campaign from the very beginning: that it employs barely disguised dog-whistle politics, overt racism and wants to win by complaining about the rules rather than finding a way to use the rules to his advantage. In doing this he probably changed US politics forever but not for better.

Continue reading Dear Lord, Please Let It Be A Landslide

Melania’s Speech (The Art Of Trolling)

Melania Trump‘s first (only?) major political speech of her career obviously made waves in the country of her birth as well. And not just because she plagiarised Michelle Obama quite audaciously. Or maybe precisely because of that, but from a different perspective. Sure, it looks bad enough from the US point of view. A would-be First Lady ripping off the, well, incumbent comes across as either too eager, inexperienced, brazen or shallow to pass the most basic of musters. After all, FLOTUS is an office (if one can call it that) one is married into rather than elected to. Which makes it all the more necessary to tread carefully lest accusations of usurpation of power be made. Just ask Hillary Clinton.

Melania Knavs Trump giving her first and possibly last major political speech (source)

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Third Time Unlucky (Take-Aways Of A Referendum Defeat)

Now that the heads have cooled off, the gluttony of various light-related festivals passed and the sordid reality of yet another year finally sunk in, it’s time to take a long look at the can of whoop-ass that was opened on the same-sex marriage legislation on 20 December. As most of you know, the third iteration of the marriage equality bid failed. Spectacularly.

Final, albeit unofficial, referendum results. Chart via ChartGo

Namely, not only did the NO campaign clear the much-hyped quorum hurdle with relative ease (more than 20% of all eligible voters voted against the measure), it also added 100k voters to the cause in comparison to the ill-fated Family Code, the 2012 attempt to resolve the issue via a comprehensive legislative package. The result came as a rude shock to the YES campaign and as an (unwelcome) surprise to pollsters who are starting to see changes in voters’ behaviour that make predictions even harder. Still, a few take-aways are obvious.

Battles are won or lost before they’re started

Sun Tzu‘s quote, although obvious or useless (or both) seems rather apt for the occasion, as all the work by the YES camp resulted in exactly zero progress in the field. The total number of people who supported same-sex marriage this time around is almost exactly the same as the total number of people who supported it in the 2012 vote. They may be different people, but the reach of the progressive side effectively remained the same. This suggests a complete misreading of the field at the very start which led to an ineffective campaign which did nothing but get the vote which most likely had in the bag anyway.

Cultural learnings of the right for make benefit the glorious political option of the left

We all live in a bubble, and yours is smaller than you think. One would think that the progressive side had learnt that lesson the last time around, but apparently not. Srsly, people, the few hundred followers that agree with you don’t mean shit. There was a noticeable lack of dialogue in this campaign, as if neither side really wanted to engage the other. And while the YES campaign probably avoided contact to prevent itself getting drawn into needless fights, the NO campaign, hard at work since March when the law was initially passed, thus remained happily undisturbed at enlisting support and amassing troops. The NO campaign also understood exactly what was at stake and what it needed to do to shoot down the law, while the YES campaign (and, more broadly, the progressive side in general) apparently had little grasp of the opponents’ gameplan and at times seemed to hope things will take care of themselves.

Things don’t “just get better”

pengovsky realises that LGBT NGOs are probably thinking “what more could we have done” and, in all seriousness, the answer is “probably not much”. Theirs is a worthy cause and they’ve been at it for the better part of the last three decades. But that doesn’t mean things will suddenly fall in place. Not when there’s a substantial part of traditional left-wing voters who are, well, traditional and will vote against same-sex marriage regardless of their general political persuasion. Which explains the lacklustre campaign performance by both junior coalition partners, the DeSUS and the SD (with PM Cerar’s SMC putting only slightly more back into it). Just because something is right, or just, or just plain overdue, it doesn’t mean it will just happen. This sort of perception is a problem that has plagued the progressives for the last few years at least (and possibly longer than that) and is something they need to fix ASAP.

If anything can go wrong, it will

There seems to be little respect for the wisdom of Major Edward Murphy these days, but just like Sun Tzu’s seminal work, Murphy’s laws should (once again?) become required reading for political strategists. At least in this sorry little excuse for a country. Apparently the strategy regarding this law (insofar it existed at all) was based on the optimistic scenario of the law getting passed in the parliament, presuming that even if the NO camp collected enough signatures to call a referendum, this would be rebuffed by the Constitutional Court on human rights ground and even if that failed, there would be no way the 20% quorum would be reached. And even if this was a plausible scenario at one point in time, it is almost outrageous that no contingency was planned in the event that the worst-case scenario were to unfold. And when it did, the YES campaign was struggling to get its shit together.

Ground game matters, you can’t win by playing defence

You see, the NO side was hard at work ever since the law was passed. Not only did they have a basic network in place from the last time around, they had worked hard in expanding it. Arguably, they’ve more than compensated for the resources spent on defending Janez Janša during the Patria affair and the operation the right has in place right now is nothing short of formidable. The YES campaign and the left in general on the other hand failed spectacularly in this aspect. Reports from the field suggest that there were almost zero attempts at taking the game to the opponents’ side of the pitch. What little ground operation there was in the YES camp, it was limited to friendly environment and even there results were meagre.

Winning on the internets counts for nothing

Most observers agree that the online population was tilted heavily in favour of the YES vote. But counting on online support is almost like preaching to the choir. And even there the level of engagement was, well, lacking. This is where the inexperience of campaign principals (specifically, the United Left) showed in its entirety. For some reason, they were apparently convinced the key to the victory was the internets. Just how they came to that conclusion is beyond comprehension. Maybe they thought it was the key to their own political success in 2014 elections (it wasn’t). Or maybe they thought the NO campaign collapsed after that bizarre debate ten days before the vote (quite the opposite). At any rate, winning just the internets is useless.

The new referendum rules are not a game changer

Although the double-whammy of the new referendum rules seemed like it will take of the problem by itself, it didn’t. In fact, the United Left, which by virtue of sponsoring the latest iteration of the same-sex marriage legislation was running the show, at first apparently toyed with the idea of calling on people to boycott the referendum (which they wrongly assumed would not be allowed) but then came to the realisation that the only way to beat this would be to win a relative majority, fair and square. The lesson here being that although the new rules can weed out referendum antics the likes of Arhcive referendum, proper political fights are less affected by the new rulebook.

Even if you think rules favour you, you should study them in-depth

The NO camp was a bit nervous at some point regarding the outcome. That Aleš Primc bugged the State Electoral Commission (DVK) over the accuracy of voters’ registers and whether people who died in the last ten days before the vote (the interval between the date of posting invites to the vote and the vote itself) will count towards the quorum proves this. Now, at first, the commission told Primc to go suck a lemon but he managed to secure enough support in the supervisory body of the commission to have the rules on this altered to his advantage. Thus the final rule, announced just days before the vote, stated that the commission would update voters’ registers to reflect the number of eligible citizens on the day of the vote. Not that the NO campaign needed this particular tweak in the rules in the end, but the point is they did get their way. Because they knew the rulebook.

Get the vote out

No, really. I mean, if you make exactly zero headway in widening your reach compared to the last time around, you might want to go back to the drawing board.


Hopefully, someone will do the last item, at least. Pengovsky has no doubt Slovenia will legalize same-sex marriage. The trend seems to be both world-wide and irreversible. But it needs help and a well tought-out strategy. Because left to its own devices, Slovenian society, known for its glacial pace of accepting change (or accepting nearly anything else, for that matter), will, well, warm to the idea some time in the mid-2080’s, probably several years after Iran and Saudi Arabia will have already legalised same-sex weddings.






Sometimes Even Most Basic Principles Need Voters’ Confirmation. This Is One Of Those Times.

The international media have started showing some interest in Sunday’s vote as well. Politico.eu has a decent summary of events so far, for example. But with five days remaining to Sunday’s referendum vote on same-sex marriage, the one thing that has been noticeably lacking in the public debate are polls. While that will likely change in the days ahead, it left both YES and NO campaigns in the dark in terms of gauging their reach and fine-tuning their approach. Now, the rumor-mill has it that some in-house polling was indeed done and that the results suggest a slight edge for the NO campaign, but given the lack of (financial) resources both campaigns are struggling with, these things need to be taken with a grain of salt, although it would be wrong to disregard them completely.

pengovsky already cast his vote

Having said that, the campaign this time around is so crude that public opinion polls would probably not do much difference. The NO campaign especially opted for an all-hands-on-deck approach, enlisting the support of whatever grass-roots and Astroturf support it could muster, ranging from crackpots talking about hormone disruptors to suspiciously similar looking associations and groups all the way to the Catholic Church and the right-wing political parties, both within and without the parliament.

Lies, damn lies and the NO campaign

And while the YES campaign enlisted support from non-parliamentary and parliamentary parties, including the ruling coalition, it is trying to keep the message simple and clear: the issue here is equal right to marry and little else. And while they have been fairly consistent in this approach (post-debate mockery of the NO side over the weekend notwithstanding), the other side have resorted to fearmongering, intimidation, bad grammar and abuse of legal procedures, all in the name of the cause.

Namely, the day after the debate on public TV which left many-a-viewer in a state of shock and disbelief (yes, there was actually a guy in the NO camp talking about hormone disruptors and yes, pengovsky knows this guy personally), the very next day there was a hearing in the parliamentary committee on human rights on the issue. Normally, such a hearing would be held during legislative procedure, but since the committee is chaired by SDS’ very own Eva Irgl, it was clear from the outset that the sole aim of the enterprise was to give the NO camp a platform to speak from. Especially since Slovene media still feel obliged to report just about every antic the elected representatives of the people think of. Sure, the YES campaign were given the right to counter the claims of the NO campaign, but it was more than obvious who were the protagonists in this particular farce.

Intimidation, fearmongering and bad grammar

Were that not enough (and apparently it isn’t), private individuals who let the world around them know they’re in favour of equal right to marriage, are being bullied and intimidated by those opposing the measure. Case in point being Maruša Žabkar, a young entrepreneur from the town of Krško, who according to her own account,  found a hand-delivered unsigned letter on her doorstep on Monday morning, full of accusations, homophobic slurs and bad grammar, denouncing her and (among other things) accusing of destroying the nation by supporting equal rights. Go figure.


Still, the award for the most concentrated pile of bullshit goes to the Roman Catholic Church which provided a compendium of virtually every bigoted conspiracy theory you can find on the internets, some of which would make even the right wing of the Republican Party cringe. A sample, for your reading, well, pleasure.

The law allows for adoptions by same-sex couples. Do you really wish your child to be adopted by two homosexuals, should anything happen to you?

The law does not “allow” for same-sex adoption, as these are already legal in case of one partner being the biological parent or if the adoption took place in a foreign country (e.g. the USA). Should a child, bob forbid, lose both parents while underage, Slovenian legislation (as everywhere in the world, I imagine) provides for a custodian to be named, usually the next of kin. Usually, grandparents or uncles and aunts. And even if there is no next of kin and the orphaned child would indeed be up for adoption, the social services would act in the best interest of the child. This excludes any possibility of same-sex couples being somehow privileged in adoption procedures. Doubly so given the fact that there are way more prospective adopters in Slovenia than there are possible adoptive children. And if you’re still not convinced, there is a provision for children over 10 years of age to give their consent for adoption into a new family.

The law brings changes to curriculum. Do you wish for your children to learn that they can pick their own gender and that they should experiment with their gender and sexual orientation?

Wait, what? Not only does the law not say a word about teaching curricla, the “school-meddling” argument has been thoroughly refuted (link in Slovenian). But on the whole, pengovsky should point out that keeping your children from learning stuff (including on sexual orientation) only creates frustrated and socially inhibited individuals. Which is a fairly good description of the vast majority of the NO campaign.

The law kills freedom of speech. Do you wish to lose your job saying it’s better for a child to have a mother and a father than two people of same sex?

Pengovsky has yet to see a law that would repudiate an article of the constitution. Obviously, nothing of the sort would happen.

And so on, ad nauseam. A good run-down of absurdity of these “arguments” is available here.

One of those times

And if none of the arguments of the NO campaign hold water, the only question is, why vote YES? Simple: because all men (and women) are created equal and people who want to be together should be able to do so in a way that makes them the most comfortable. By allowing same-sex weddings, no one is disenfranchised, only slightly more people get to get hitched.

This might seem self-explanatory especially to young voters, but sadly it is not. Which is why Sunday’s vote is so terribly important. Sometimes, even the most basic principles of a modern society need to be confirmed by a popular vote.

This is one of those times.