BOSTON- October 9, 2013
As Republicans and Democrats in Congress continue to barter over finding resolve to what has now become a nine day, mud-slinging, harangue of placing blame and pointing fingers, the government shutdown has little hope of finding a continuing resolution that will extend the current budget, return federal workers from furlough and pacify the American public during this egregious impasse.
Every fiscal cycle, Congress must approve appropriations for federal spending prior to the budget year deadline of October 1st. The current state of this financial crisis has placed Congress in the crux of zero passed appropriations and a series of failed attempts at temporary conflict resolution from both sides.
Historically, prior to the 1980’s, Congressional discord over fiscal spending was an issue that neither the American public, nor the mainstream media paid much attention to, as it was typically considered just another stalemate for Congress to hurdle. However, with recent suggested tax hike increases, Obamacare, and close to 80,000 federally funded jobs on the line, the spotlight on these negotiations has moved to the forefront of national concern and singlehandedly created a distinct shift among political and historical analysts alike.
The United States Government has not seen a shutdown of this proportion in 17 years since the Clinton Administration, which lingered on for over three weeks at the end of 1995 into 1996, with concessions coming only at the expense of the Bipartisan leadership and the Re-election of President Clinton. In essence, we will continue to watch as an American public with mired interest and 17 years from now, historians will attempt to deconstruct yet another government milestone by assessing these political arguments and turning the past into history.
Historians have argued the social ramifications of government discord as long as government has existed. We are taught at a young age that History is black and white; names, dates, places and facts from books; that we utilize the past to learn from our historical predecessors mistakes and create a new social enigma to avoid these constraints of government and political divide in the future. This recent government shutdown will serve as a perfect example against this scientific-based argument, that defining the historical importance of the past is based solely through the understanding of documented sources.
The conventional way in which the interpretation of History has traditionally been defined is through this empirical-analytical method. This theory argues that in order to discover the truths of the past, a historian must only evaluate the most immediate, available sources to extract meaningful significance as predictors of future outcomes. This scientific approach analyzes the knowledge of our past in the utmost precise manner and argues that it will allow historians the complacent ability to express their knowledge through “plausible knowability”. (1) That is, through this discernible process, the discovery of the past is based solely on a critical examination of sources, therefore resulting in the most accurate narrative. However, social theory argues that as Historians, we can never truly know the past. We can certainly document a list of chronological events of the past, but to argue that the connection between reality, concepts and the subsequent construction of social history can be achieved without the basis of understanding and reflectively integrating certain social assumptions into the historical analysis is absurd. In other words, there are definitive social aspects of humanity such as economic and individual progress, material exploitation, personal relations and demographic changes that may shift with trends over time, but are always centered in the core of any historical analysis of society. That being said, an examination of our current government crisis in the future cannot be accurately assessed without also explaining and interpreting the motives, the players of the game and the historians representation of that interpretation in ultimately defining the past with meaning.
To derive any relevant understanding of the past in order to curb the societal impact on government in the future, it is crucial to incorporate sound empirical based evidence alongside individual interpretation of historical information in terms or morality, tragedy and even false-hoods to offer a historically, accurate and sound explanation. In the end historians, in and of themselves, are merely cognitive interpretations of said reality and it is the past that manifests the ultimate outcomes as history continues to repeat itself.
Munslow, Alan. The New History. Great Britian: Pearson Education Limited, 2003.