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 Republican Health-Care Unraveling

Part I

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images
Michael Reynolds/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy discuss the House Republican's new health-care plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. This is the first part of a two-part article. The full version appears in the Spring 2017 issue of The American Prospect under the title: “The Republican Health-Care Unraveling: Resist Now, Rebound Later.” This is the “resist” part. Subscribe here to the magazine. I magine if Donald Trump had been a genuine populist and followed through on his repeated promises to provide health insurance to everybody and take on the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. Populists in other countries have done similar things, and Trump might have consolidated support by emulating them. Of course, Trump’s promises about health care weren’t any more genuine than his promises about Trump University. But even if he had been in earnest, he would have still faced a problem. Unlike right-...

When an Election Damages Democracy

American democracy faces the risk of systemic harm in 2016.

Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx via AP
Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx via AP Donald Trump at a rally at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on October 10, 2016. This article, written in September, appears under the title "When Elections Fail" in the Fall 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . O ne of the great advantages of liberal democracy is the potential for self-correction. If an election works out badly, the next one offers an opportunity to make a better choice, and in the meantime constitutional guarantees keep the winners from abusing their power. But sometimes elections fail so disastrously as to threaten irremediable damage to a society’s foundations. The United States faces that risk this year. Systemically damaging election failure can happen in several ways. Elections may be rigged or manipulated and, even when they haven’t been, the suspicion that they have may impair a new government’s legitimacy and create a constitutional crisis. Elections can fail when they put...

Trump’s Nomination Will Shake Confidence in American Democracy

We already had reasons to worry about democracy. Now we have one more.

(Photo: Sipa USA via AP/Monica Jorge)
(Photo: Sipa USA via AP/Monica Jorge) Protesters gather in Hartford, Connecticut, during a rally for GOP presidential candidate Donald J. Trump on April 15. W ith his victory in Indiana yesterday, Donald Trump is now, as he claims, the “presumptive” Republican presidential nominee. Although the polls indicate he’ll likely lose to Hillary Clinton, the election is half a year away, and a lot can happen in between. The consequences of Trump’s becoming president would be momentous for both America and the world. It would change forever the way we think about democracy—and the way the world thinks about America. In fact, his nomination alone will have a deep impact even if he ultimately loses. A major-party nomination legitimizes a candidate’s views as worthy of fair consideration. As a “birther” doubting Barack Obama’s citizenship, Trump could be treated as a crank. In the early stages of the primary campaign, his statements about Mexicans and Muslims could be regarded as the wild...

Pages