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Constitutional Hardball

Notes from a few papers on ‘Constitutional Hardball’

Nomic is a game in which changing the rules is a move. In that respect it differs from almost every other game. The primary activity of Nomic is proposing changes in the rules, debating the wisdom of changing them in that way, voting on the changes, deciding what can and cannot be done afterwards, and doing it. Even this core of the game, of course, can be changed.

Nomic: A Game of Self-Amendment by Peter Suber

tl;dr: Constitutional Hardball is a deliberate disruption of the pre-accepted spirit of the game that is non-frivolous and within the letter of the game, undergone in order to re-order the social understanding of the rules, usually in response to an opportunity to avoid longterm loss of said game. It is a high-risk move that can backfire or have unintended consequences, and is therefore not usually attempted during the course of “ordinary politics”, according to the paper from which it is coined. Other papers I’ve found in this discourse discount the idea of a peaceful “ordinary politics”, arguing instead that hardball is a feature of the system that is often attempted by political winners to entrench themselves structurally almost all of the time, only sometimes succeeding in a longer term consensus of the constitutional order.

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