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.


Edmund Burke’s Alternative: Political Theory and the American Revolution
March 13, 2017 John G. Grove

The ultimate lesson Burke drew from the American crisis was starkly opposed to the one suggested by the Declaration: That equality as a guiding principle actually distorts our perception of political justice by blinding us to meaningful and essential differences within a body politic.

Confronting Globalization: Brexit and the American Revolution
March 9, 2017 Jonathan Chandler

There is a parallel between the American decision to leave the British Empire in 1776 and the British vote to leave the EU in 2016: both movements emphasized their localist credentials through a confrontational narrative that was anti-establishment, anti-corporate and anti-globalist.

Due Process and the Death Penalty
March 6, 2017 Alan Rogers

In the United States Constitution, the Founding Fathers safeguarded the rights of the accused by limiting the power of the state. The Terry Williams case illustrates all too clearly what happens when prosecutors disregard Constitutional rules and principles.

The Dangers of “Aristocracy:” Grund’s Critique of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America
February 27, 2017 Armin Mattes

Bringing Aristocracy in America into dialogue with Tocqueville’s Democracy in America can help historians to better understand the nature of the conflict between “aristocracy” and “democracy”—an issue that may be more relevant even in our own time than many had thought.

Bridling the Unbridled: The American Constitution and The Presidency of Donald Trump
February 20, 2017 Andrew D. Carico

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
February 16, 2017 Jim Cullen

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
February 12, 2017 Larry Arnhart

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
February 9, 2017 Carson Holloway

Starting Points Podcast: An Interview with Carson Holloway

The Humanities in a High Tech World
February 6, 2017 Donald L. Drakeman

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.?
February 1, 2017 Lucas Morel and Melvin Rogers

A Starting Points Conversation featuring Lucas Morel and Melvin Rogers