Paul Starr

Paul Starr is co-founder and co-editor of the 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 seven books, including most recently Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle over Heath Care Reform (Yale University Press, revised ed. 2013). Click here to read more about Starr.

Recent Articles

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 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 strongmen in power who have no...

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...

The Democrats as a Movement Party

What would it take to get the “broken engine of progressive politics” working again?

Albin Lohr-Jones/Sipa/AP Images
Albin Lohr-Jones/Sipa/AP Images Following her victories in the Democratic primaries on "Super Tuesday," Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke at a rally for her supporters, many representing local unionized labor, at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. This article is a preview of the Spring 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine . Subscribe here . P olitical parties in the United States are typically broad coalitions that bring disparate groups together to win elections. In a two-party system, those coalitions are usually the only way the different constituencies and their leaders can hope to gain a share of power. At times, however, parties become closely aligned with social movements that shift the base of party support, or the parties themselves take on the character of a movement. Much of American history is remembered this way—as a series of movements that inspired change in parties, won elections, and transformed the nation. But that historical...