Starting Points

At Starting Points, we take the long view of American politics. Non-partisan and interdisciplinary, we aim to understand American politics by looking before and beyond our current political situation—before to the historical, cultural and intellectual roots of American politics, and beyond to the overarching ideas and guiding ideals of our unique political tradition.


Bridling the Unbridled: The American Constitution and The Presidency of Donald Trump
by Andrew D. Carico February 20, 2017
- Whatever one may think of President Trump, perhaps the greatest hope for Making America Great Again is not found in a particular president but in the American people’s own charter of government: The Constitution of the United States.
History Without Reading
by Jim Cullen February 16, 2017
- Recognizing, and acting, on the reality of student life as it is currently lived means imagining a world without books—broadly construed—as a means toward preventing their disappearance.
Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin
by Larry Arnhart February 12, 2017
- On February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in Hardin County, Kentucky; and Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England. The coincidence of their being born on the same day might lead us to think about the points of similarity in their lives.
Hamilton versus Jefferson in the Washington Administration
by Carson Holloway February 9, 2017
- Starting Points Podcast: An Interview with Carson Holloway
The Humanities in a High Tech World
by Donald L. Drakeman February 6, 2017
- Scientists and physicians can figure out whether a new drug actually extends lives, and mathematicians can calculate the costs, but science alone cannot provide a considered judgment about who should have those benefits and at what price.
Can American political thought be a resource for improving race relations in the U.S.?
by Lucas Morel and Melvin Rogers February 1, 2017
- A Starting Points Conversation featuring Lucas Morel and Melvin Rogers
Jefferson and Religious Toleration
by Ari Helo January 30, 2017
- Defining the specifically American tradition of religious freedom inevitably brings us back to Thomas Jefferson. In the final analysis, religious freedom meant nothing less than freedom of conscience to Jefferson.
Solidarity and Subsidiarity
by Peter Augustine Lawler January 26, 2017
- Each American knows he or she is a citizen, but also more than a citizen. Solidarity with all human beings—through a universal conception of rights and of citizenship in the City of God—means that our world isn’t irredeemably divided into bands of friends out to rob their enemies blind.
What is the future of the American political thought subfield?
by Jeremy Bailey and Justin Dyer January 26, 2017
- A Starting Points Conversation featuring Jeremy Bailey and Justin Dyer
The Unexceptional Nation: Donald Trump and Making America Great Again
by Hilde Eliassen Restad January 23, 2017
- Since World War II, U.S. foreign policy has been operating under the assumption that the world needs U.S. leadership not just because of American military might, or because of the dollar, but also because of American ideals. This foreign policy tradition and its justification in American exceptionalism is opposed by the new American president.
U.S. Constitutional Democracy in the World
by Jay Sexton January 23, 2017
- What does the U.S. founding of 1787 look like from an international perspective? When and why did U.S. constitutional democracy matter to the wider world? These questions speak to our current global age. More than that, they offer a starting point for the coming generation of scholarship that has already begun to change our understanding of the U.S. founding.
Did the 2016 election provide a blueprint for the future success of the Republican Party?
by Carson Holloway and George Hawley January 23, 2017
- A Starting Points Conversation featuring Carson Holloway and George Hawley