What history can tell us about the government shutdown

Oct 3, 2013

It's Day Three of the government shutdown — with no compromise in sight. 

Late Tuesday, President Barack Obama met with Vice President Joe Biden, Speaker of the House John Boehner, Minority House Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Harry Reid, and Sen. McConnell. That meeting yielded nothing that we know of in terms of solving the impasse.

Meantime, Americans continue to express their anger at all sides involved in this stalemate.

We wanted to get some historical perspective and context to all of this: Has America weathered standoffs like this in the past? What can history teach us about the divisions we see now between the president, House and Senate Democrats, and Republicans — especially the far-right Republicans?

And is finding common ground possible in Washington, D.C. in 2013?

For this conversation, we turn to historian Gleaves Whitney, who directs the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University.

Listen to the full interview above.