STARTINGPOINTS

A Journal of American Principles & American Practices

LATEST ARTICLES

Morality and Presidential Campaigns
October 15, 2018 by 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 by 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 we reflect on Wigmore's CV and life, we may also reflect on our own.
Black Politics in Lowcountry Georgia after the Civil War
September 24, 2018 by 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 social consciousness of African Americans during this period.
Dante’s Philosophical Life: Author Interview with Paul Stern
July 9, 2018 by Starting Points
- A Political Theory Review interview with Paul Stern about his new book, Dante's Philosophical Life: Politics and Human Wisdom in Purgatorio
Henry Clay and the Spirit of Compromise
July 1, 2018 by Samuel Postell
- Henry Clay attempted to render compromise a political virtue. In a time of weak parties, sectional strife, and agitation from abroad, Clay understood that the Speaker of The House needed to appeal to Republicans and Federalists alike if he wished to unify coalitions and pass substantive policy to affirm American independence, facilitate self-government, and urge economic progress.
Why Honor Matters
June 17, 2018 by The Political Theory Review
- A Political Theory Review interview with Tamler Sommers, Associate Professor of Philosophy at The University of Houston, about his recent book, Why Honor Matters
Why Won’t Free Speech Save Us?
June 11, 2018 by Bruce Ledewitz
- Ross Douthat wrote a May 27 column for The New York Times provocatively titled, Free Speech Will Not Save Us. The columnist was casting doubt on the argument that the best way to cure political polarization is with renewed respect for the right of people to speak.
The Founders on Race and the Rational Basis of Natural Law: Reply to Peter Myers
June 4, 2018 by Thomas G. West
- For the founders, the social compact is based on equal consent on both sides. Existing citizens should consent to new citizens, just as new citizens should consent before being admitted to citizenship.
Author Meets Critics: Thomas G. West’s The Political Theory of the American Founding
June 4, 2018 by S. Adam Seagrave
- The parochialism implied by the title of West’s book and reflected in much of its content contrasts with the universality of the founders’ rhetoric and with the timelessly applicable ideas of natural rights and the natural law.
Author Meets Critics: Thomas G. West’s The Political Theory of the American Founding
June 4, 2018 by Peter C. Myers
- The great contribution of West’s book is to bolster the argument that the founders are a formidable group, not only in their political prudence but also in their claim to genuine moral and political wisdom.
Natural Rights in America Today, with a Defense of the Founders on Natural Law: Reply to Seagrave
June 4, 2018 by Thomas G. West
- Adam Seagrave’s review of my Political Theory of the American Founding contains both praise and criticism. I will respond here to four of his most important concerns.
Boundaries of the International: Law and Empire
May 7, 2018 by The Political Theory Review
- A Political Theory Review interview with Jennifer Pitts about her recent book, Boundaries of the International: Law and Empire
The Election of 1940
April 30, 2018 by John W. Jeffries
- While the war in Europe played a significant role in the parties’ nominations for the presidential election of 1940, it had a relatively small part, and less than is usually understood, in voting.
Equal Recognition: the Moral Foundations of Minority Rights
April 23, 2018 by The Political Theory Review
- A Political Theory Review interview with Alan Patten about his recent book, Equal Recognition: the Moral Foundations of Minority Rights
Defending Rorty: Author Interview with William Curtis
April 9, 2018 by The Political Theory Review
- A Political Theory Review interview with William Curtis about his new book, Defending Rorty: Pragmatism and Liberal Virtue
Congress in the Light of History
March 26, 2018 by David R. Mayhew
- What should we expect of a separation-of-powers regime interlaced with tough checks and balances? What should we expect of a legislature representing a heterogeneous public that seems to be growing more heterogeneous, not to mention more fractious, all the time? To think about these matters, it may pay to reach for historical perspective.
Supreme Court Expansion of Presidential Power: Unconstitutional Leanings
March 19, 2018 by Louis Fisher
- Starting with the Curtiss-Wright decision in 1936 and carrying forward to Zivotofsky v. Kerry in 2015, the Supreme Court has resorted to erroneous dicta and deference to promote independent executive power in external affairs. These judicial misconstructions have done severe damage to basic constitutional principles, including checks and balances and self-government.
Gaming the Framing: A New Way to Teach the Constitutional Convention
March 12, 2018 by John Patrick Coby
- Why study the Constitution through the medium of role-play? Students playing roles will better appreciate the difficulties of framing a constitution and better understand what was at stake and what was possible for the delegates who gathered in Philadelphia—better than if they simply heard or read about the event.
Ryan Anderson and the Continuing Challenge to Religious Liberty
March 5, 2018 by Scott Yenor
- The rubber for the marriage movement will meet the road on the issue of religious liberty. By conceding to “social harm” and “social meaning” arguments, Anderson and Girgis make it more difficult to defend religious liberty against anti-discrimination laws.
Imagining a Federative Legislative Power
February 19, 2018 by Mariah Zeisberg
- To be rendered coherent in an age of US hegemony, the logic of our constitutional order calls for a legislative federative institution, through which the perspectives of domestic and foreign audiences can be considered in dialogue, and which can shape the way US power is projected abroad.
Common Core: Author Interview with Nicholas Tampio
February 12, 2018 by The Political Theory Review
- A Political Theory Review interview with Nicholas Tampio about his new book, Common Core: National Education Standards and the Threat to Democracy
Nietzsche’s Final Teaching: Author Interview with Michael Gillespie
January 29, 2018 by The Political Theory Review
- A Political Theory Review interview with Michael Gillespie about his new book, Nietzsche's Final Teaching
Lessons from the Madness of Diogenes and John Brown
January 15, 2018 by Mark Benton
- Our politics has problems. There must be a way to bring the steadfastness of a Diogenes or a John Brown into public discourse uncompromised, but in a way that is also palatable to those who turn away from the words of someone so unusual.
Teachers of the People: Author Interview with Dana Villa
January 8, 2018 by The Political Theory Review
- A Political Theory Review interview with Dana Villa about his new book, Teachers of the People: Political Education in Rousseau, Hegel, Tocqueville, and Mill
Does History Make Sense? Author Interview with Terry Pinkard
December 18, 2017 by The Political Theory Review
- A Political Theory Review interview with Terry Pinkard about his new book, Does History Make Sense?: Hegel on the Historical Shapes of Justice
Gerrymandering and Gill in Constitutional Perspective
December 11, 2017 by Jay Dow
- Gerrymandering is as old as the republic itself. The siren call of court intervention is attractive but will eventually make the court just another political actor. A better solution to gerrymandering is smaller legislatures.
Are Intellectual Property Rights Moral?
December 4, 2017 by Gunnar Gundersen
- The case is hard for those challenging intellectual property. There is no coherent basis for a right to enjoy the creations of others without the compensation of or consent of their creator.
What’s New
November 20, 2017 by Starting Points
- What’s New will be a gateway for readers to learn and benefit from the accumulated wisdom of the excellent scholars working to further our collective understanding of the American political tradition.
Historical Records and Historical Narratives about the Constitutional Convention
November 13, 2017 by Lynn Uzzell
- It is both prudent and just to question the reliability of the records we use when forming our historical narratives. But it is no less prudent to question the wisdom of forming constitutional narratives that seek to replace the historical records with the historian’s speculations.
Is the Administrative State Legitimate?
October 30, 2017 by Joseph Postell and Jennifer Selin
- A Starting Points Conversation featuring Joseph Postell and Jennifer Selin

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