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

War, Peace, and the Election

T he presidential debates this year were a failure by the standard we use to measure our public entertainments: their ratings were abysmally low. It was not really the candidates' fault. Boredom with elections is one of the luxuries of our time. Not only have long prosperity and a seemingly unthreatened peace lulled us into political somnolence; many people believe that the government in general and the president in particular have had nothing to do with America's good fortune. Technology alone has supposedly given us the new economy, and the collapse of the Soviet Union has seemingly removed the perils of war. So why pay close attention to what the candidates say? That sense of a world so secure that neither major-party candidate will endanger it may explain the near-total lack of interest this year in matters of war and peace. Those of us who are old enough may remember this as a subject that once got Americans stirred up. When Hubert Humphrey was vice...

The Betrayal

N othing about the 2000 election matters nearly as much as the ugly means by which it was brought to an end. Throughout our history, with the terrible exception of 1860, every party has been able to live with the victory of an opposing candidate for president. One reason is our confidence in a legal system that is supposed to stand apart from politics and limit the consequences of political defeat. The presidency of George W. Bush may not be the republic's happiest era, but it will be endurable. What is not so easily endured is the Supreme Court's betrayal of our trust. No one would feel that sense of betrayal if the majority of the Court had acted consistently with its judicial philosophy. Suppose the facts had been reversed and Al Gore had been leading by a small margin in Florida when he appealed to the Supreme Court to stop a recount requested by Bush. Suppose he had also argued that differences among counties in standards for judging ballots represented a...

Florida: the Case for Rerunning the Election

November 9, 2000, 11:15 a.m. The next president should not arrive at the White House under the suspicion that his claim to office is illegitimate. Even without knowing the final recount in Florida, we do know that more than enough ballots to change the outcome were thrown out in Palm Beach County because of a confused ballot design and that many black voters claim to have been blocked from voting elsewhere in the state. A court could allow voters in Palm Beach County to register their true intentions by filing an affidavit that they mistakenly marked the ballot for both Gore and Buchanan or for Buchanan alone. But such a procedure would require the court to accept the word of these citizens about their original votes, and it would so clearly throw the election to Gore that Republicans would never accept it. Some voters in Palm Beach County have already filed complaints demanding a rerun of the election in that county. While a far better approach, a new...

Reckless Predictions

You had no reason to notice it, but The American Prospect was totally Y2K-free this past year. We didn't run a single article about the disasters that were supposedly going to befall the world after the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve. We also didn't run any articles giddily anticipating all the wonders that human ingenuity would bring in the twenty-first century. We are a sober lot. We don't make reckless predictions one way or the other. Now I propose to spoil that spotless reputation by speculating about the outcome of the 2000 presidential election. First speculation : Although Bill Bradley refused to acknowledge it, Al Gore effectively ended the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in New Hampshire. Gore might not have won there if John McCain hadn't corralled the majority of the independents. But immediately afterward, Gore soared to a huge advantage in national polls (40 points, as I write a week later),...

Damage Report

T he past two years have humbled both liberals and conservatives—or should have. The 1992 election, liberals hoped, would set in motion a new cycle of progressivism. It didn't. After the 1994 election, the new conservative leaders of Congress expected to stage a revolution. They didn't. First President Clinton failed to secure the bolder aspects of his program, notably health care reform and public investment; then the Republicans failed to enact most of the Contract with America and their seven-year budget plan. Clinton miscalculated on health care; the congressional leadership miscalculated on the government shutdown. Conservatives still have control of the national agenda, and they have won a big victory on welfare reform. But the collapse of public approval for Gingrich and the Congress—down to about 26 percent since January, according to a Wall Street Journal /NBC poll—has deflated their claim to a historic mandate. Thus the 1996 election comes at a curious juncture. Juggernauts...

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