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

No, Trump Is Far from Finished

The Manafort and Cohen convictions haven’t changed the political realities. 

In a 1920 study that is now regarded as a pioneering example of press criticism, Walter Lippmann and Charles Marz found that in its coverage of the Russian Revolution, The New York Times had repeatedly told its readers that the Communist government was on the verge of its demise. The Times coverage, Lippmann and Marz wrote, was “a case of seeing not what was, but what men wanted to see.” Last week, immediately after Paul Manafort’s conviction and Michael Cohen’s guilty plea, pundits on television and in print were saying that Donald Trump was on the verge of his political demise. Some future media critic will probably do a study of all the many times since the beginning of the 2016 campaign when one event or another led to claims that Trump had reached a turning point and would soon be finished. (For a partial refresher, see J.M. Rieger’s video compilation at The Washington Post .) The Manafort verdict and Cohen plea led to some fine examples of the genre...

The 2018 Gubernatorial Races that Matter Most for 2020 and Beyond

Here’s where Democrats could reclaim some of the power they lost in 2010.

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Capturing control of state governments in 2010 proved to be a crucial step for Republicans in engineering a dominant position in American politics for the past decade. They used their power in the states to entrench themselves in office by gerrymandering both congressional and state legislative districts after the 2010 census, changing critical voting rules and procedures, and passing legislation such as “right to work” laws weakening unions and rewarding the wealthy donors to their campaigns. With the 2018 election, Democrats have a chance to recover some power in the states in advance of the 2020 presidential election and the redistricting that will follow the 2020 census. In the gubernatorial races, Republicans are defending 26 of the 33 seats they hold, while Democrats are defending 9 of 16 (the one remaining is in Alaska, currently held by an independent). These races include major pick-up opportunities for Democrats in states where Republicans have used their power...

A Good Formula for Losing the 2018 Election

The “Abolish ICE” slogan hands Republicans an opportunity on an issue where they ought to be entirely on the defensive.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
There’s a current of opinion on the left of the Democratic Party that the party just needs to excite and turn out its progressive base and should forget about appealing to Republicans and independents. The demand to “abolish ICE” (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) reflects that premise and epitomizes what’s wrong with it. The brutal inhumanity of Trump’s child-separation policies, turning away of refugees, and deportations of immigrants who have long been well-regarded members of their community should put Republicans this fall wholly on the defensive on immigration. Republican candidates ought to have a lot of awkward explaining to do, and Democrats ought to have opportunities to win back support. Not all conservatives and independents are hopelessly anti-immigrant; many Republicans have supported bipartisan immigration reform, and many pay heed to religious leaders who have strongly condemned the child separations and other inhumane measures Trump...

The Center-Left Is Alive and Well

That’s the actual pattern in Democratic primaries, as this week’s voting in the Midwest reaffirmed.

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
The results in this week’s primaries continue to contradict the claim that the Democrats are now seeing a shift to the left comparable to the shift to the right of the Republican Party. In the gubernatorial race in Michigan, the more centrist Democrat Gretchen Whitmer handily defeated Abdul El-Sayed, who was backed by Bernie Sanders, and will now face the Trump-endorsed Republican Bill Schuette. A moderate, Laura Kelly, also prevailed in the Democratic nomination for governor in Kansas and may have a shot at winning the general election if another Trump-endorsed candidate, the right-wing fire-eater Kris Kobach, hangs on to his slim lead in the Republican primary. These results are in line with the overwhelming pattern in primaries since last year, when two center-left Democrats, New Jersey’s Phil Murphy and Virginia’s Ralph Northam, defeated candidates to their left and then went on to win their races for governor against Republicans who positioned themselves far to...

How the Tax Act Undercuts Health-Care Reform

Ending the individual mandate will inflate premiums in the Obamacare marketplaces—especially for the middle class.

txking/Shutterstock This article appears in the Summer 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Congressional Republicans got themselves a two-fer when, late in the drafting of the 2017 Tax Act, they inserted a provision repealing the “individual mandate”—the tax penalty charged to individuals who don’t qualify as financially stressed and nonetheless fail to obtain health insurance coverage. The repeal of the mandate not only dealt a blow to Obamacare; it also cut projected federal spending by $338 billion over ten years since it will lead millions of people to drop subsidized coverage. Republicans were then able to use the budgetary savings to offset some of the cost of tax cuts. Who will be hurt most by eliminating the mandate? It won’t just be the increased numbers of low-income families who face unaffordable health-care expenses without insurance protection. One of the ironies of the mandate’s repeal is that it will lead to...

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