If one state’s bad, 3 must be better


I’ve seen some crazy stuff over the years in political campaigns but few that rival Dr. Robert Marshall’s plan for solving the ills of the state. Dr. Marshall, one of six Democratic candidates for governor, is a physician from Burr Ridge who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2010 and Congress in 2016.

He reasons that all of the state’s problems would go away if the state went away. His plan is to divide Illinois into two, three or four states and the problems will be divided too. Outstanding bills? Divide them up. Pension debt? Ditto. And this problem of not being able to do things that aren’t allowed by the state Constitution? That document would be gone.

We would all get a do-over.

The doctor also thinks the 13 million people in Illinois are under-represented with only two U.S. senators. Divide and we get more; congressmen too.

In December he told WTTW-TV in Chicago he was leaning toward three states instead of four. In January he told the Daily Herald that both were under consideration.

“Four is a little too complex,” he told Paul Caine at WTTW. “Three is pretty simple. Chicago would be one of the states, it would be separate. The second state would be the suburbs. And then the third state would be the rest of the state outside the suburbs.”

Where his plan starts to get a bit dicey is when he splits the state into four. In that scenario “the rest of the state” would again be split in half … along Interstate 80, so both the Rock Island-Milan and Moline-Coal Valley school districts would be split between the State of Northern Illinois and the State of Southern Illinois!

Unfortunately Dr. Marshall didn’t respond to requests to meet with our editorial board, so I can’t explain why it would make sense to split the Quad-Cities region of several hundred thousand people between two states.

This is an exercise in silliness.

The candidate told the Daily Herald’s Marni Pyke that there are a lot of people downstate who really like the idea. If we are all honest, those of us who live “downstate” might occasionally admit to wanting to jettison Chicago and its problems. It’s not always fun when Chicago is the tail that wags the dog – especially when it comes to sharing its crime and corruption.

Illinois is what it is because of Chicago. Our economy, transportation system, and yes our government and politics, are driven by the city. Fortune 500 companies are located there, as are manufacturing, retail, a huge service industry and information technology companies. And let’s not forget the Chicago Cubs.

We get a lot of good along with the bad. Lots of Chicago area taxes go to the the state.

As much fun as it might be to cover Moline, Rockford and Galena arguing over which should be the capital of the State of Northern Illinois, it’s not going to happen. It’s been talked about in other states and never gone anywhere. That’s because the people who benefit most from the lousy things going on in this state and nation, are the ones who would have to approve it.

Dr. Marshall says it should be easy, but history shows us otherwise. There would be a citizens’ referendum – maybe three or four. Then the state legislature would have to approve. After that, Congress must approve it.

Long before that happens, people with more realistic ideas than Dr. Marshall will have plotted a way through the state’s problems—or it will have gone bankrupt.

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