'Democracy's Rebirth, The View from Chicago': New book highlights crisis putting democracy in danger

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There is a crisis facing this country and, according to a local political expert, it is putting democracy in danger.

Long-time UIC political science professor Dick Simpson is sounding a call to action in a new book that's about to be officially launched next week.

Simpson shares his concerns and what he believes has to be done.

For the past 55 years, Dick Simpson has been studying and teaching political science at the University of Illinois Chicago.

He's authored more than 20 books and is about to release, what he calls, the most important one he's done: "Democracy's Rebirth, The View from Chicago."

"It's about democracy in Chicago and the progress we're making towards it. It's about democracy at the national level and the progress we haven't made," Simpson explained.

Simpson, who served as 44th Ward Alderman from 1971-79, said the challenges to democracy have put the country in crisis and said it began long before the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

"The polarization is greater than it's been almost since the Civil War. The problems of corruption and politics are epic," Simpson said.

In the book, Simpson looks at many of the problems from the Chicago perspective, pointing to the disappearance of the middle class and gerrymandered political maps, as well as how elections are funded.

However, he also offers a host of solutions.

"I think we need to repair democracy itself. Citizens need to be able to participate in their own neighborhood and guiding policies," he said.

Students, he said, need more civics training on how to vote and how to affect policy.

Simpson, who was an early supporter of Lori Lightfoot, got her to write the book's forward.

"It's not just the politics that he knows a tremendous amount about, it's about putting it into historical context and continuing to really prick our consciousness about why good government makes a difference," Lightfoot said.

After five decades of teaching -- with the last two years enduring the challenges of doing it over zoom -- the now 81-year-old Simpson has decided it's time to write his next chapter, so he will be retiring at the end of this semester.

On Thursday, April 21, Simpson will be joined by Mayor Lightfoot to talk about his new book and hold a book signing at the Harold Washington Library from 6:00-7:00 pm. No reservations are required.
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