Illinois lawmakers consider separating Chicago as its own state
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Illinois lawmakers consider separating Chicago as its own state

For his 2015 film, director Spike Lee dubbed the Windy City ‘Chi-Raq’, obviously a take on the country of Iraq, for the level of gang violence and crime in America’s ‘Second City’. It is not another country, of course, but some lawmakers are considering whether it ought to be another state.

A group of Republican members of the state legislature have signed on to a resolution that would urge the U.S. Congress to separate the city from Illinois and make it its own state.

Speaking with the State Journal-Register, Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer said the resolution is a way to “spark discussion.” And it has.

“It’s more of a frustration of the policies than the true belief that Chicago and Illinois would be better off as separate states,” Davidsmeyer told the paper. But he said he doesn’t really think the separation is a solution, adding that “our relationship is mutually beneficial.”

On the other hand, Rep. Brad Halbrook, one of the original sponsors of the bill, seems rather serious. The Journal-Register reports that he “supports the idea of removing Chicago from the rest of Illinois” over “ideological differences,:” offering examples like abortion and gun rights, where the urban center is out of step with the rural parts of the state.

Resentment for the big burg from those “downstate” locales, as the rest of Illinois is referred to, is an ongoing issue, and one that has bubbled up many times in the past. The new Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot addressed the “resentment” issue last week when speaking to the Illinois House of Representatives.

“We are all Illinoisans, and we all have the best interests of our constituents at heart,” she said.

“Let’s be clear. When Illinois thrives, Chicago thrives,” she added. “And the reverse is also true.”

But Rep. Davidsmeyer, articulating a belief held by many, said that “the policies that come down from Chicago are actually pushing [the rest of the state’s] economic opportunity away.”

The bill, House Resolution 101, delves into other issues as well, including taxes. The addition of Davidsmeyer’s name to the list of Republicans in support has intensified the issue, and whether it is to spark debate, or a serious idea, won’t change that the underlying issues are now taking a front seat in the state’s politics.

And, like the blue states trying to undermine the electoral college, or the ticket sales for Unplanned, it’s yet another example of the deep and seemingly unbreachable divide in this country along every social, political, and economic line.

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