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, which will be out next year.

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 . R epublicans 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 have used in...

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
AP Photo/Dave Pickoff A student protester at Columbia University is forcibly removed from the campus, April 30, 1968, by plainclothes New York City police after they entered buildings occupied by the students, and ejected those participating in the sit-ins. 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 . I f 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 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 authoritarianism in America, edited by Cass Sunstein of...

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
National Archives/Public Domain Many of the efforts promoting national unity in the World War II era left out blacks—but not this poster from 1942, which encouraged racial tolerance among factory workers. This article appears in the Fall 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . A mericans 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,...

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