Paul Starr

Paul Starr is co-founder and co-editor of 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 eight books, including Entrenchment: Wealth, Power, and the Constitution of Democratic Societies (Yale University Press, May 2019).

Recent Articles

The Long Game on Taxes

It’s not too soon to start thinking about the tax reforms we need and the strategy for getting there.

Albin Lohr-Jones/Sipa USA via AP Images A demonstrator holds a sign at a rally in opposition to the Republican tax bill held in Lower Manhattan This article appears in the Summer 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . The immediate aim for progressives on taxes is clear: show all the ways in which the 2017 Republican Tax Act favors the interests of the wealthy and short-changes average Americans, who will ultimately end up paying the cost. But the long game on taxes is a lot less obvious. We need policies that foster a more widely shared prosperity, correcting for the trend toward increased economic inequality instead of aggravating it. We need stable financing for programs that the public continues to demand. And we need to reduce the risks of climate change by promoting the shift away from carbon fuels. Working out an effective and persuasive strategy to achieve those aims poses an extraordinary challenge. How we got progressive taxation in the first place...

How the 1968 Columbia Student Uprising Looks Now

The echoes can still be heard today of what happened on the Columbia University campus 50 years ago this month.

AP Photo/Dave Pickoff
The following article appeared originally in Columbia College Today and is cross-posted here with permission. Paul Starr, the Prospect ’s co-editor, was a sophomore reporter in 1968 for the Columbia Daily Spectator and co-author of a book about the student revolt, Up Against the Ivy Wall . If you know about it only vaguely or picture it in a gentle light, the student revolt at Columbia in April 1968 might seem like a romantic episode in that era’s youthful rebellion. But it was a deadly serious confrontation—electrifying to people who supported the revolt; horrifying to others who saw it as evidence of a widening gyre of instability and violence in America. Inner-city riots were all too familiar by that time. Earlier that April, the black ghettos had exploded after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Yet the Columbia uprising was something new: students at a privileged, Ivy League university taking the college dean hostage and occupying the president’s...

The Democratic Emergency

This is American democracy's stress test. We have only limited time to pass it.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik President Donald Trump takes a question from reporters on the South Lawn of the White House This article will appear in the Spring 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . “It is now clear that the most frightening threats to ordinary politics in the United States are empty or easily contained. … The sky is not falling and no lights are flashing red.” So wrote two distinguished historians, Samuel Moyn and David Priestland, in an article in The New York Times last August. With surprising confidence only a half-year into the Trump administration, they warned not against dangers to democracy, but against “tyrannophobia,” the irrational fear of tyrants. Fourteen months into Trump’s presidency, it’s even more surprising to see that same view still being expressed in serious quarters. A few of the contributors to Can It Happen Here? —a new collection of essays about the potential for...

A New Strategy for Health Care

Looking beyond Trump, Democrats ought to focus on opening Medicare to people at age 50 and capping excessive health-care prices.

(Christian Delbert/Shutterstock)
This article appears in the Winter 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine as part of a joint project with the Century Foundation on Health Reform 2020 . Subscribe here to The American Prospect . hc2020_logo-04_jpeg.jpg With the Trump era only a year old and its full impact on health policy as yet unclear, it may seem premature to discuss what ought to come next. But, driven by new enthusiasm among progressives for Bernie Sanders’s single-payer plan, the debate has already begun, and if the past is any indication, supporters of reform will turn to proposals long in gestation when they are finally able to act. When that time comes, Democrats don’t want to discover they have locked themselves into commitments on health care that they cannot fulfill, just as Donald Trump and Republicans did in 2016. Democrats are justifiably angry today about the Republican efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid that have put health care for millions of people in...

An American Way for America Now

Why the country needs a Democratic party that knows it needs white working-class voters

National Archives/Public Domain
This article appears in the Fall 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Americans often look back to the mid-20th century as a time when the country was cohesive and unified, unlike today’s bitterly divided society. That image of mid-century America was always incomplete, but insofar as there was a culture of consensus, it was not a wholly spontaneous development. Much of the country’s leadership and national media from the 1930s through World War II and the early postwar years made concerted efforts to foster unity across social and religious lines in the face of threats from abroad and at home to America’s stability and survival. The United States is surely different today—the lines of cleavage have shifted, the media have fractured into separate worlds, and we have a president who acquired power with explicitly anti-immigrant and racist appeals. But the mid-20th century experience nonetheless offers instructive lessons for confronting...

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