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

Michael Bloomberg and the Case of the Homeless Republicans

America’s homeless have lately been joined by a new group: wealthy, moderate Republicans whose home has been seized by Donald Trump after they were long made to feel unwelcome in their old neighborhood. Democrats, always sympathetic to the displaced, now face a choice about whether to take in this new population of the uprooted and forlorn. No one better embodies the homeless Republicans than Michael Bloomberg, who has recently been reported as mulling a race for president as a Democrat. According to Forbes , Bloomberg is the tenth richest person in the world, with a net worth of $53 billion, and he is spending $80 million of it to support Democratic candidates for the House this year. Democrats are certainly glad to have that financial support. They are also glad to have the support of the reclusive hedge fund manager Seth Klarman (net worth, $1.5 billion), who after being one of the Republicans’ biggest donors has shifted his contributions to Democrats in 2018. In a rare...

The Big Choice about the Supreme Court that Democrats Will Face

With Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation nearly certain—and perhaps other right-wing justices to follow in coming years—Democrats are going to face a fundamental choice about the Supreme Court the next time they control the presidency and Congress and try to carry out substantial reforms. When that moment comes in 2021, 2025, or later, the Court will likely have reversed many long-standing liberal precedents and policies and be poised to strike down new progressive initiatives. Many people assume there is nothing Democrats could do that in that circumstance. But instead of simply acceding to the Court’s dictates, they could take a fateful step that the Constitution leaves open: increasing the size of the Court and appointing additional justices to shift the balance. This was, of course, what Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to do after being re-elected in 1936, when he faced a Court that had overturned major New Deal programs. FDR didn’t invent the idea of changing...

Did Democrats Just Set Themselves Up for a Fiasco?

How the new presidential nominating procedures could backfire.

I have a strange idea about a party’s rules for nominating a presidential candidate. The main purpose, it seems to me, should be to choose a candidate who can win and then govern well. But I admit that in the Democratic Party my view has lost out to the insistent demand that the nomination procedures put one criterion above all others: reflecting the wishes of primary voters and caucus participants, even though those groups represent a small fraction of the voters the candidate and the party will need in November. The Democratic National Committee, you may have read, voted in late August to “strip” power from superdelegates. “Voters—and Nobody Else—Will Pick the 2020 Democratic Presidential Nominee” ran the misleading headline on an article by Larry Cohen, the Bernie Sanders-picked vice chair of the party’s Unity Reform Commission. The superdelegates, Cohen explained, will be unable to vote on the first ballot at the national convention...

No, Trump Is Far from Finished

The Manafort and Cohen convictions haven’t changed the political realities. 

In a 1920 study that is now regarded as a pioneering example of press criticism, Walter Lippmann and Charles Marz found that in its coverage of the Russian Revolution, The New York Times had repeatedly told its readers that the Communist government was on the verge of its demise. The Times coverage, Lippmann and Marz wrote, was “a case of seeing not what was, but what men wanted to see.” Last week, immediately after Paul Manafort’s conviction and Michael Cohen’s guilty plea, pundits on television and in print were saying that Donald Trump was on the verge of his political demise. Some future media critic will probably do a study of all the many times since the beginning of the 2016 campaign when one event or another led to claims that Trump had reached a turning point and would soon be finished. (For a partial refresher, see J.M. Rieger’s video compilation at The Washington Post .) The Manafort verdict and Cohen plea led to some fine examples of the genre...

The 2018 Gubernatorial Races that Matter Most for 2020 and Beyond

Here’s where Democrats could reclaim some of the power they lost in 2010.

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Capturing control of state governments in 2010 proved to be a crucial step for Republicans in engineering a dominant position in American politics for the past decade. They used their power in the states to entrench themselves in office by gerrymandering both congressional and state legislative districts after the 2010 census, changing critical voting rules and procedures, and passing legislation such as “right to work” laws weakening unions and rewarding the wealthy donors to their campaigns. With the 2018 election, Democrats have a chance to recover some power in the states in advance of the 2020 presidential election and the redistricting that will follow the 2020 census. In the gubernatorial races, Republicans are defending 26 of the 33 seats they hold, while Democrats are defending 9 of 16 (the one remaining is in Alaska, currently held by an independent). These races include major pick-up opportunities for Democrats in states where Republicans have used their power...