No matter what any politician or pundit might say now, the reality is that the nation and the Federal Government survived all of these shutdowns with relative ease. None were the harbingers of doom that many portrayed them to be. And if another shutdown happens tomorrow, it will not spell the end of the government, of democracy, of freedom, or of anything like that. This isn't to say it won't have significant consequences, for it most certainly will. But those consequences will be short-lived, by and large. The only potential long-term ones revolve around the implementation of Obamacare. And given that this is not an election year, the short-term ones--if the shutdown happens--will not have the huge political repercussions many are imagining. We--as a nation--simply don't have memories that long.
And with regard to those memories, let's take a closer look at one of the previous shutdowns, the one day shutdown that occurred in December of 1987. The Wonkblog article describes it thusly:
Shutdown #14: I Think You're a Contra
When did it take place? Dec. 18-20, 1987A fair summary, but a little more depth is required to get a full picture.
How long did it last? 1 day
Who was president? Ronald Reagan
Who controlled the Senate? Democrats, 54-46; Robert Byrd was majority leader
Who controlled the House? Democrats, 258-177; Jim Wright was speaker
Why did it happen? Reagan and congressional Democrats could not agree on funding for the Nicaraguan "Contra" militants in time to avoid a shutdown. Additionally, Democrats pushed for a provision reinstating the "Fairness Doctrine," which required that broadcasters give equal airing to both sides in political disputes, and which the FCC had recently stopped enforcing at the time.
What resolved it? Democrats yielded on the Fairness Doctrine, and a deal was worked out wherein nonlethal aid was provided to the Contras.
The issue of funding for the Contra rebels was a product of a great deal of haggling and was in fact still on the table--as the specifics here show--even after the Iran-Contra affair had been exposed (Reagan had created the Tower Commission to look into the affair a year before, in late November of 1986). This is worth noting because at the time, there was general support in Congress for continued assistance to the Contra rebels. There was disagreement over the form and size that assistance should take. Now, more than twenty-five years later, many Democrats and others on the left would tell a markedly different tale about the U.S. funding of Contras, a tale that doesn't mesh with the reality of Congressional actions or votes.
Nonetheless, this disagreement over the nature and size of the support the Contras should receive was a major issue in the moment. After all, it led to a shutdown of the Federal Government.