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.


The Proof is in the Pudding: The Myth of Equality
November 8, 2018 Emma Lentchner

Equality is treated as a universal and invariable concept, yet in practice authors manipulate it constantly to articulate their own interpretations, inadvertently transforming it into a political conception.

Gerald Ford and the Persistence of Constitutional Power
November 5, 2018 Jordan T. Cash

It is common for scholars to distinguish between a ‘traditional presidency’ that existed in the 18th and 19th Centuries and a ‘modern presidency’ that emerged in the mid-20th Century. Proponents of this distinction see the presidency created by the Constitution as fundamentally weak. The modern presidency, by contrast, is portrayed as stronger and able to ...

Forged By Crisis
October 29, 2018 Jay Sexton

A Nation Forged by Crisis (2018, Basic Books) tells the history of the United States through the greatest periods of crisis in each century of its existence. It opens with the 18th Century Revolution and covers the Civil War, Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. These periods of crisis forever altered the ...

Where Do Our Rights Come From? An Evaluation of American Patent Law
October 22, 2018 Adam MacLeod

In Oil States Energy Services LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group LLC, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that patent owners do not have a right to a trial in a court of law. The issue at hand in the case was whether Congress could vest in the United States Patent and Trademark Office power to adjudicate ...

Restoring Civic Virtue: The Buckley Model
October 18, 2018 Moriah Poliakoff

The political life of William F. Buckley Jr. stands as a model for reinvigorating the civic virtue that the American founders recognized as necessary.

Morality and Presidential Campaigns
October 15, 2018 Mark R. Cheathem

During and after the 2016 presidential campaign, many commentators wondered how U.S. politics had devolved into the political circus witnessed that election season. Especially puzzling was the support that evangelical Christians, adherents to a faith that emphasizes morality in all facets of life, gave to the Republican candidate—the twice-divorced, coarse-talking, oft-bankrupt Donald Trump.

Life Behind the CV: A Case Study of an Unusual Legal Scholar
September 30, 2018 Andrew Porwancher

Academics forgo the term “resume” in favor of “curriculum vitae.” The CV refers to a list of degrees and accomplishments. But considering the Latin translation–“the course of life”–is the term too grand? The story of John Henry Wigmore suggests that “cirriculum vitae” is not an overly grand term. Wigmore’s CV depicts a unique life path–as ...

Originalism: Reclaiming the American Promise
September 26, 2018 Ayesh Perera

Originalism best reflects the Founding Fathers’ faith in self-government and also best preserves the legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Black Politics in Lowcountry Georgia after the Civil War
September 24, 2018 Karen Cook Bell

Throughout Lowcountry Georgia, African Americans marshaled against native southern power and federal policies that did not serve their interests. Through organizations such as the Union League and the Farmer’s Alliance, African Americans developed an understanding of their political and social identity. The pursuit of self-governance, kinship, labor, and networks of communication transformed the political and ...

Omelas and Bensalem: Liberty and Utopias
September 6, 2018 Alexandria Marie Putman

Is it possible for a society to be good without liberty? Bacon’s The New Atlantis and Le Guin’s The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas both aid in exploring this important question.