* Associate Professor of Government at Hamilton College
* Administers the website Polysigh.com
Phil Klinkner is Associate Professor of Government at Hamilton College in New York, the school that made – and later, under pressure, rescinded – a speaking invitation to fraudulent Native American professor Ward Churchill. While personally appalled in retrospect by the selection of Churchill, Klinkner attempted to defend the invitation (although he denied knowing the extent of Churchill’s fierce anti-Americanism) on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News program, claiming free speech rights.
Professor Klinkner received his B.A. in Politics from Lake Forest College in 1985 and his Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University in 1992. In 1990-91, he was a Research Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. Klinkner has authored several books, including: The Unsteady March: The Rise and Decline of Racial Equality in America (2002); The Losing Parties: Out-Party National Committees, 1956-1993 (1994); The American Heritage History of the Bill of Rights: The First Amendment (1991); and The American Heritage History of the Bill of Rights: The Ninth Amendment (1991).
Klinkner is best known, however, for his website, Polysigh.com. He has argued on his website that President Bush’s 2004 re-election had little or nothing to do with Americans’ concerns over “family values” issues (gay marriage, abortion, birth control, and similar domestic concerns), and everything to do with the fact that Bush received 2 percent more (than John Kerry) of the vote from people earning over $100,000 per year.
Klinkner observes that the percentage of Americans in that income category rose, during Bush’s first term, from 15 to 18 percent; in his view, Bush’s predominance over Kerry in that income demographic simply indicated that rich people were voting for more class warfare, an analysis as unpersuasive as it is sweeping. A better question that Klinkner could have asked was, “What is the significance of the fact that a full 3 percent of the American population was added to the upper echelon of the income rolls in a period of virtually no inflation?”
Klinkner’s effort in his analysis is not merely to discredit Bush as a creature of the wealthy, but to deny the influence of the South’s Evangelical right, or even of the religious Midwest, in American politics. As even a cursory examination of the electoral map reveals, the Midwest and the South won the 2004 election for Bush; attempting to posit alternate explanations is whistling in the wind.
To Klinkner’s credit, he has supported the Academic Bill of Rights, which encourages fairness and tolerance for both liberal and conservative voices within academe, and his posts on the war in Iraq have been more even-handed than those of most leftists. In addition, in contrast to leftwing ideologues like Ward Churchill and Robert Jensen, Klinkner’s scholarly credentials are solidly based.