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

A World Apart

George W. Bush and John Kerry could agree on one point in the first presidential debate: Nuclear proliferation -- specially the risk of terrorists obtaining nuclear weapons -- represents the most serious threat we face. But the difference in how the two candidates approach the problem illustrates a more fundamental political divide that will stretch beyond this election. That split is about the means of making American power effective as well as the grounds for using it. As Bush sees it, the United States can best protect itself through two means: the forward projection of American military power and a confident assertion of American ideals of democracy and capitalism. If allies come along with us when we intervene, they come; if not, not. We cannot allow other countries to deter us from fully using our power. As Kerry sees it, the United States can best protect itself when it leads the world community. No other country has a veto on American policy, which needs to be focused on...

A World Apart

George W. Bush and John Kerry could agree on one point in the first presidential debate: Nuclear proliferation -- specially the risk of terrorists obtaining nuclear weapons -- represents the most serious threat we face. But the difference in how the two candidates approach the problem illustrates a more fundamental political divide that will stretch beyond this election. That split is about the means of making American power effective as well as the grounds for using it. As Bush sees it, the United States can best protect itself through two means: the forward projection of American military power and a confident assertion of American ideals of democracy and capitalism. If allies come along with us when we intervene, they come; if not, not. We cannot allow other countries to deter us from fully using our power. As Kerry sees it, the United States can best protect itself when it leads the world community. No other country has a veto on American policy, which needs to be focused on...

Health Care's Big Choice

The American health-care system is again at a point of critical change as a result of escalating costs and a gathering movement among employers, insurers, and policy-makers to revamp the structure of health insurance. Like the spread of managed care a decade ago, the new changes will be a bitter pill for many people. Most Americans, however, don't know what is in the works or what fundamentally different choices about the future of health care the two presidential candidates are offering them. During Bill Clinton's second term, health-care inflation slowed to a crawl as the economy grew rapidly, but under George W. Bush those conditions have been reversed: Health costs and insurance premiums have soared in a slow economy. Median family income fell 3 percent between 2000 and 2003 as a result of the recession, while health-insurance premiums rose 10.9 percent in 2001, 12.9 percent in 2002, 13.9 percent in 2003, and 11.2 percent in 2004, according to surveys by the Kaiser Family...

Prospects

It would have been a catastrophe for democracy itself if liberal leadership during the past century had been unequal to the challenges of national defense. But under Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the United States and its allies prevailed in both world wars. FDR and Harry Truman, advised by such “wise men” as George F. Kennan, created the alliances and international institutions that were foundations of U.S. security in the postwar era. And John F. Kennedy upheld and extended the same liberal internationalism at the height of the Cold War. Nonetheless, when John F. Kerry presented himself and his fellow Democrats at their July convention as a credible party of national defense, some observers were skeptical, as if this could only be a masquerade or a makeover instead of being rooted in a long tradition. The convention highlighted Kerry's own personal bravery in war, a narrative with obvious parallels to the biography of the original JFK. But there were more substantive...

The Return of Energy

Mr. Kerry, after four years of slothful leadership, the American people may be ready for the quality that the Framers referred to as “energy in the executive.” That energy, of course, can't be solely of your own making. Since the nation's founding, the eras that have decisively advanced democratic purposes have been built around a dynamic interplay of presidential leadership and popular movements. The transformational presidents have drawn energy from below even as they created energy of their own. Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson--not all rose to power out of the great movements of their time, but as president they articulated and championed the movements' aspirations and turned their ideas into enduring institutions. Fortunately, you have a lot more to work with than Bill Clinton did. In the 1990s, after decades of decline, progressive organizations and the Democratic...

Pages