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What Can be Learned from Chicago's Corrupt Politics?

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

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We are living in troubled times as our nation is deeply divided along so many lines, racially, politically, economically. It is even possible that a twice-impeached former president who’s been indicted multiple times, including for trying to overturn his election defeat, actually could reach the presidency again.

Hate against various groups has grown dramatically and is one of the many factors contributing to the mass shootings we are experiencing today.

Our Lean to the Left podcast guest, Dr. Dick Simpson, has spent more than five decades as a legislator, campaign strategist, and government advisor, including serving as an alderman in Chicago, a city known for hard-ball politics. In this episode, he discusses what can be learned from Chicago's corrupt politics.

Dr. Simpson is the author of “Democracy’s Rebirth: The View from Chicago. With meticulous analysis and pragmatic recommendations, Dr. Simpson navigates the intricate web of political, racial, economic, and social disparities that are shaping our nation's destiny. The relevance of his work extends beyond a local context, making it a pivotal resource for anyone invested in the revitalization of democracy.

Here are some questions we explored with Dr. Simpson:

1. Could you provide a brief overview of "Democracy's Rebirth: The View from Chicago" and the inspiration behind it?

2. What aspects of Chicago's history and political landscape make it a pertinent case study for understanding the challenges of building a multiracial, multiethnic democracy?

3. Your book delves into the complexities of money in politics. How has this issue contributed to the current democratic crisis?

4. Low voter participation is a concern across the nation. What are the underlying reasons for this trend, and how can we encourage greater engagement? After all, we are at a time when the safety and accuracy of our electoral process is being challenged by those who refuse to accept defeat?

5. "Democracy's Rebirth" addresses the politics of resentment. How has that played out in recent years, including among Donald Trump’s MAGA supporters?

6. Political corruption is a recurring issue in the public eye. How can we tackle this challenge to restore trust in our democratic institutions?

7. You’ve said that structural problems are at the heart of our democracy's struggles. What are some of these key structural issues, and what practical steps can we take to address them?

8. You’re all about inspiring individuals to contribute to the strengthening of democratic institutions. What role does education play in this process?

9. With your experience as a former alderman in a city with a long history of political corruption, and as a political scientist, how can we create lasting, positive change in our communities?

10. In her Foreward to your book, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot's writes, “democracy is an argument that says that our society’s greatest success comes by all its members having an equal opportunity to unlock their shared talent and potential. Can you comment about that?

11. Where can people find your books and how can they reach out to you?

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