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Starting Points

An interdisciplinary online journal of American ideas and American practices

Presidential inaugurations always bring with them spirited discussion and debate about the nature, character, and aspirations of American democracy, and it is safe to say that this year’s was no exception to this rule. These kinds of conversations are, to be sure, of the utmost importance—vital to national health and progress—and while they naturally crescendo around a changing of the guard, they should by no means be confined to a handful of days, every four years, in mid-January. Helping to ensure that lines of inquiry into and dialogue about American constitutionalism and its history remain at all times open and active, on January 23, Kinder Institute Associate Professor of Constitutional Democracy Adam Seagrave launched his new editorial venture, Starting Points, a thoroughly interdisciplinary and rigorously non-partisan online academic journal of American ideas and American practices (startingpointsjournal.com).

In commenting on the launch, Prof. Seagrave stressed how the journal’s two flagship articles—Bjørknes University College Associate Professor of International Studies Hilde Eliassen Restad’s “The Unexceptional Nation: Donald Trump and Making America Great Again” and Kinder Institute Chair in Constitutional Democracy Jay Sexton’s “U.S. Constitutional Democracy in the World”—reflect the publication’s goal of “taking the long view of American political life [by] connecting recent events and issues in American politics both to cutting edge scholarship on the American founding and to the global context and importance of American constitutionalism. As we say on the site,” he added, “the journal aims to look 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.”

In addition to articles, which will be updated weekly and are designed to take a non-specialist approach to unpacking their subjects, the journal will also feature conversations between leading scholars of American political thought and history, the first of which finds University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Carson Holloway and University of Alabama’s George Hawley engaging in a back-and-forth on the question of whether the 2016 election provided a blueprint for the future success of the Republican Party. There is also a podcast station connected to the journal in the works, so we hope that you will subscribe to Starting Points and remain apace with the Kinder Institute’s most ambitious scholarly project to date.