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 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...

What If Trump Had Run as a Democrat?

A Trump campaign in the Democratic Party could also have created havoc—except for one thing.

AP Photo/John Minchillo
AP Photo/John Minchillo Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump works the rope line during a campaign stop at the Savannah Center, Sunday, March 13, 2016, in West Chester, Ohio. A number of observers have said Donald Trump’s march to the Republican presidential nomination is a case of chickens coming home to roost. And it’s true: The GOP has for years been playing to white resentment, and Trump has just exploited that potential more aggressively than anyone else. From this standpoint, the Republican Party’s leaders have no one to blame but themselves for the hijacking of their party. But let’s play a little “alt” history and imagine that several years ago, Trump began calculated moves to run as a Democrat. Let’s imagine also that Beau Biden had never developed brain cancer, and that his father, Joe, had decided to run for president, so the “mainstream” Democratic vote was more divided. Planning to run as a Democrat, Trump would have avoided backing the “birther” movement, but...

The Larger Problems of the Sanders Single Payer Plan

Putting our nation's health care under federal control would create more problems than it would solve. 

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
This is a contribution to Prospect Debate: The Cost of Sanders's Single-Payer Health Plan . prospect-debates-icon.jpg T hink about what a single-payer health plan means. The federal government pays for all health care for everyone. The pleasant thought is that all of your health expenses are being paid for. The unpleasant thought is that since all those expenses come out of the federal budget, your health care now depends on the decisions of Congress and the president. And an even more unpleasant thought—at least for progressives who may be inclined to support single-payer—is that people with progressive values will not always be in charge in Washington and therefore wouldn’t always be making those decisions. In “ The False Lure of the Sanders Single-Payer Plan,” I raised a series of objections to Sanders’s proposal. Responding from the Sanders camp, Gerald Friedman devotes all his attention to one aspect of my criticism: the cost estimates by Kenneth Thorpe that I cited. Joining in...

Isolationism is No Answer

How a disciplined and discriminating strategy can defeat ISIS and put the Syrian civil war on the path to a peace accord.

AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File
This is a contribution to " Prospect Debate: Should We Fight ISIS? " prospect-debates-icon.jpg I n his response to my article in the Winter issue, Jeff Faux calls for the United States to abandon the fight against ISIS and to withdraw from the Middle East. This is not a good idea. ISIS and al-Qaeda, it should be unnecessary to say, represent real threats to the security of people around the world, including Americans. Neither terrorist group is going to stop killing infidels if the United States pulls out. Learning about their intentions is not difficult. They have made those intentions abundantly clear in public statements and videos and through the language of violence. It is not true that all the efforts by the United States to defeat terrorism have failed and that the war against ISIS is “already lost,” as Faux claims. In fact, the measures we have taken against al-Qaeda have severely weakened it, and ISIS is now in retreat in its home territory in Syria and Iraq. In his wholesale...

The False Lure of the Sanders Single-Payer Plan

Why a seemingly attractive proposal doesn’t make sense.

(Photo: AP/Evan Vucci)
(Photo: AP/Evan Vucci) Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on January 30. W ouldn’t it be great if we could just go to the doctor and not pay any bills? After all, isn’t that what they do in other countries, and don’t those countries have lower health-care costs than the United States does? And aren’t private insurance companies the only reason we don’t have that kind of system? This is the appeal of the Bernie Sanders single-payer health plan. Free health care, with none of the frustrating paperwork of today’s insurance, and with taxes that cost less than insurance premiums—what could be better than that? Of course, the single payer in the Sanders plan is the federal government, which implies concentrating payment and therefore power over health care in Washington. But, at least in this area, many Democrats don’t seem worried about that prospect. Sanders doesn’t just call for incremental steps toward single-...

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