A Valentine’s Love Letter to Illinois – The Illinoize


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“It isn’t worth it, man.”

A friend who fled across the state line to Indiana told me that a few weeks ago when I was complaining to him about this newsletter causing long nights, stress, and the more than a few people in Illinois politics who don’t seem to like me very much.

Even though our politics and our cultural divides and crime and inequity and size and complexity can make you want to bang your head against a wall, it’s a good time to remember why we love this place so much.

Obviously, the best thing about the state is the Chicago Cubs, but that’s probably another fight for another day.

It’s hard to imagine how we fit so much into a space of 400 miles by 200 miles. We’re the sixth largest state by population with the third largest city, largest soybean producing state, second-largest corn producing state, the fourth largest manufacturing jobs, and undeniably better pizza than St. Louis.

Sure, much has changed since René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle and Henri de Tonti established a fort in present-day Peoria in 1680 or since Jean Baptiste Point du Sable settled in present-day Chicago a century later. But the natural beauty remains, from the lakefront to Starved Rock, to the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers to the craggy terrain in southern Illinois. It’s a varied beauty that most states don’t have.

Illinois has a noticeable rural-urban divide. It is likely more extreme than it ever has been and the gap is wider than it ever has been. It may feel like people from Chicago and the suburbs and from downstate couldn’t be more different.

What we all want are better schools, safer neighborhoods, good paying jobs, improved infrastructure, and access to health care are all issues that matter whether someone rests their head in Lakeview, Morgan Park, Downers Grove, Moline, Decatur, or Metropolis.

There are so many problems and it will take a long time to fix them all. But there are always problems everywhere. It’s the search for that “more perfect union,” because you’re never actually going to find perfection. Utopia doesn’t exist.

Who is going to fix it? Well, it’s time for the grown ups to step up.

In terms of politics, it will require Democrats to realize there is civilization south of Interstate 80. Downstate Republicans will have to understand that anything north of I-80 isn’t the modern day Sodom and Gomorrah.

Business leaders need to step up and invest, civic leaders need to build coalitions, and we all, every single one of us, needs to get involved.

Improving our discourse, fighting for a better state, and trying to tell the truth and bring the conversation back to the center may be naïve, but it’s battle worth suiting up for, because this is the place we love.

Ino Saves New

via rk2’s favorite articles on Inoreader https://ift.tt/DKL6Cxr

February 14, 2023 at 06:21PM

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