Geof Stone Discusses Government Shutdown on The Takeaway

Government Shutdown: A Sign of Failure or Success For Democracy?
The Takeaway
October 2, 2013

The fight over the government shutdown continues in Washington.

“Congress doesn't just have to end this shutdown and reopen the government, Congress generally has to stop governing by crisis," President Barack Obama said in remarks on Tuesday at White House. "They have to break this habit, it is a drag on the economy, it is not worthy of this country.”

But not everyone thinks that the shutdown is a crisis. On Monday night, Newt Gingrich told CNN that the government shutdown is not a sign of a dysfunctional democracy.

“People tend to forget, this is not a crisis," Gingrich told CNN host Pierce Morgan. "The House is elected independently, the Senate is elected independently and the President's elected independently. This is by design. The founding fathers wanted to force—to literally force—all three to deal with each other.”

This got us thinking about the role of a minority party in Congress. In the Constitution, there is a fundamental tension between the decision-making authority of the majority, and the protections granted to the minority.

We take a closer look the assertion that the government shutdown is a sign of a functioning democracy. Geoffrey Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, explores the tension of the American democratic process between minority and majority.