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


The Democratic Party continues hurtling toward disaster, as now Michigan as well as Florida Democrats have proved unable to agree on plans for a new primary. While Senator Hillary Clinton has supported the proposed do-overs, Senator Barack Obama’s campaign has opposed them--leaving the party with no apparent option for representing either state at the national convention in August. Before today’s failure in Michigan, there was still the possibility of a fair deal for all sides concerned. On Florida, that would have meant acceptance of Sen. Bill Nelson’s proposal to count the results of the January primary, but only to give the delegates half a vote apiece. That compromise would have been consistent with the original Democratic Party penalties for states that advanced the dates of their primaries or caucuses in violation of the party’s schedule. And it would have been the same penalty the Republicans imposed on Florida. No one could then have complained in November that the Democrats...

A New Deal of Their Own

Social policy once helped the young join the middle class.
Today, government aid is mainly for the elderly and the poor.

America does not do well by its young. For years government data and social-science research have demonstrated persistently high levels of poverty and related problems among children. In a UNICEF study last year measuring the well-being of children and adolescents in 21 rich countries, the United States ranked next to last. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, 17 percent of children in 2006 were growing up in families with incomes below the poverty line -- just about the same proportion as in the 1970s. What's less widely appreciated is that the problems afflicting children now extend into young adulthood. For roughly 30 years after World War II, young workers shared in economic growth, but since the 1970s they've lost ground. In 1967, according to research by Andrew Sum and his colleagues at Northeastern University, young men ages 18 to 24 who were employed full-time earned 74 percent as much as men 25 years of age and older, but by 2004, they were making only 52 percent as much...

Bringing the Race to Closure

Here's what the Democrats could do to prevent the race for the nomination from stretching into late summer and turning into an ugly donnybrook in Denver.

Remember when it was obvious that the Democratic Party would choose a presidential nominee early this year because of the front-loaded primary schedule? Like a lot else that was oh-so-obvious about this year's election, things aren't working out that way (not as of the week after Super Tuesday).While John McCain has nearly locked up the Republican nomination, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton may continue battling for weeks, possibly for months, and perhaps all the way to the convention in Denver, intensifying the bitterness and disaffection between the two camps. What's more, the nomination may hinge on procedural votes whose outcome seems unfair to the losing side. Is there anything that can be done to prevent the race from stretching into late summer and turning into an ugly donnybrook in Denver? In fact, if the primaries are not decisive, some steps could be taken to bring the contest to a fair resolution before the convention. The Democratic Party faces two separate issues. The...

Fixing Another Florida (and Michigan) Fiasco

If the Democratic race continues to be tight, a fair method for enfranchising Florida and Michigan Democrats will be vital to avoiding a tainted nomination.

Oh, no, it could be Florida again: a disputed election, a tainted result, and a Democratic fiasco. But this time, add Michigan to the mess. If the contest for the Democratic nomination continues to be close, there is a risk that the decisive issue will be a procedural question--the seating of the 366 delegates from Michigan and Florida at the Democratic Convention--and that whichever side loses, the nomination may be regarded as illegitimate. But unlike 2000, this year the Democratic Party itself--the Democratic National Committee, the two state parties in Michigan and Florida, and representatives of the Clinton and Obama campaigns--could negotiate a resolution to avert damage to the eventual party ticket. The resolution might include a round of caucuses in both states in early June to choose delegates whom the national party and all sides could accept as fairly chosen. And, if the race goes that far, those caucuses could tip the nomination one way or the other. As things currently...

The Democrats Could Blow It Again

After the first rounds of caucuses and primaries, the prospects don't look so rosy for the Democrats or so bleak for the Republicans. The presidential race now looks like a toss-up -- perhaps even with a Republican edge.

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Until recently, like most liberals, I was convinced that 2008 was going to be a Democratic year. While Republicans have been listless and divided, Democrats have been passionate and enthusiastic about their candidates for president. An unpopular war, a sinking economy, a general sense of conservative exhaustion: All pointed toward a Democratic triumph in November. A lot of conservatives had come to grudgingly agree and were preparing to spend four years in political rehab. But after the first rounds of caucuses and primaries, the prospects don't look so rosy for the Democrats or so bleak for the Republicans. The presidential race now looks like a toss-up -- perhaps even with a Republican edge. Especially after his win in South Carolina, Sen. John McCain has a plausible route to the GOP nomination, and he remains by far his party's best bet for holding onto the White House. The Republican field has been so preoccupied with appealing to the party's hard-core base that it seemed that the...