Paul Starr

Paul Starr is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, and professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction and the Bancroft Prize in American history, he is the author of eight books, including Entrenchment: Wealth, Power, and the Constitution of Democratic Societies (Yale University Press, May 2019).

Recent Articles

The Tax Act That Lost Its Name

The Senate parliamentarian scotched the Republicans’ plan for a simple bill title. 

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File House Speaker Paul Ryan, joined by House Republicans, speaks to the media on the GOP tax bill This article appears in the Summer 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Republicans like to call the tax legislation they passed at the end of 2017 the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. That was the original name of the bill, but as a result of a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian, the abbreviated title had to be dropped in the final legislation, which calls it instead, “An Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018.” Even with that last-minute decision, however, nine other sections of the legislation refer to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, although, as a matter of law, no such act exists. A strict textualist in the tradition of Justice Antonin Scalia might rule that such provisions are void. This is just the sort of literal reading that conservatives...

How the 1968 Columbia Student Uprising Looks Now

The echoes can still be heard today of what happened on the Columbia University campus 50 years ago this month.

AP Photo/Dave Pickoff
The following article appeared originally in Columbia College Today and is cross-posted here with permission. Paul Starr, the Prospect ’s co-editor, was a sophomore reporter in 1968 for the Columbia Daily Spectator and co-author of a book about the student revolt, Up Against the Ivy Wall . If you know about it only vaguely or picture it in a gentle light, the student revolt at Columbia in April 1968 might seem like a romantic episode in that era’s youthful rebellion. But it was a deadly serious confrontation—electrifying to people who supported the revolt; horrifying to others who saw it as evidence of a widening gyre of instability and violence in America. Inner-city riots were all too familiar by that time. Earlier that April, the black ghettos had exploded after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Yet the Columbia uprising was something new: students at a privileged, Ivy League university taking the college dean hostage and occupying the president’s...

The Democratic Emergency

This is American democracy's stress test. We have only limited time to pass it.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik President Donald Trump takes a question from reporters on the South Lawn of the White House This article will appear in the Spring 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . “It is now clear that the most frightening threats to ordinary politics in the United States are empty or easily contained. … The sky is not falling and no lights are flashing red.” So wrote two distinguished historians, Samuel Moyn and David Priestland, in an article in The New York Times last August. With surprising confidence only a half-year into the Trump administration, they warned not against dangers to democracy, but against “tyrannophobia,” the irrational fear of tyrants. Fourteen months into Trump’s presidency, it’s even more surprising to see that same view still being expressed in serious quarters. A few of the contributors to Can It Happen Here? —a new collection of essays about the potential for...

A New Strategy for Health Care

Looking beyond Trump, Democrats ought to focus on opening Medicare to people at age 50 and capping excessive health-care prices.

(Christian Delbert/Shutterstock)
This article appears in the Winter 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine as part of a joint project with the Century Foundation on Health Reform 2020 . Subscribe here to The American Prospect . hc2020_logo-04_jpeg.jpg With the Trump era only a year old and its full impact on health policy as yet unclear, it may seem premature to discuss what ought to come next. But, driven by new enthusiasm among progressives for Bernie Sanders’s single-payer plan, the debate has already begun, and if the past is any indication, supporters of reform will turn to proposals long in gestation when they are finally able to act. When that time comes, Democrats don’t want to discover they have locked themselves into commitments on health care that they cannot fulfill, just as Donald Trump and Republicans did in 2016. Democrats are justifiably angry today about the Republican efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid that have put health care for millions of people in...

An American Way for America Now

Why the country needs a Democratic party that knows it needs white working-class voters

National Archives/Public Domain
This article appears in the Fall 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Americans often look back to the mid-20th century as a time when the country was cohesive and unified, unlike today’s bitterly divided society. That image of mid-century America was always incomplete, but insofar as there was a culture of consensus, it was not a wholly spontaneous development. Much of the country’s leadership and national media from the 1930s through World War II and the early postwar years made concerted efforts to foster unity across social and religious lines in the face of threats from abroad and at home to America’s stability and survival. The United States is surely different today—the lines of cleavage have shifted, the media have fractured into separate worlds, and we have a president who acquired power with explicitly anti-immigrant and racist appeals. But the mid-20th century experience nonetheless offers instructive lessons for confronting...

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