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 American Torture Problem
December 10, 2018 Chase Sievers

This essay offers a brief account and (partial) critique of the Central Intelligence Agency’s enhanced interrogation program which was utilized during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Reinterpreting the Separation of Powers
December 10, 2018 David J. Siemers

With dysfunction the current watchword in American politics, the public is naturally looking for solutions. The checks and balances offered by three coequal branches of government are the remedy most frequently advanced for this task. But we should exercise caution in endorsing this idea as a cure for our political ills.

Exile, Statelessness, and Migration
December 3, 2018 The Political Theory Review

A Political Theory Review interview with Seyla Benhabib about her recent book Exile, Statelessness, and Migration

Hobbes’ Kingdom of Light
November 26, 2018 The Political Theory Review

A Political Theory Review interview with Devin Stauffer about his new book, Hobbes’ Kingdom of Light

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.