[I]t is not the shutdown itself that threatens the unraveling of our being jointly committed in this way. The government has shut down before and survived. Nor is the breakdown in normal legislative negotiations—because one side has, as it were, left the dance floor. It has to do with the fact that it is no longer common knowledge among the citizens of this country—left, right and center—that most everyone is willing to act together as a single political society. The real damage is caused by the idea that that our current democratic form of government should be shuttered. For that raises the question of whether it should be around at all. And once people begin to wonder whether the government is something that other citizens are taking seriously—even if they aren’t—the idea that we are all in this together can vanish.

Michael P. Lynch, “Democracy After the Shutdown”