Friday, February 10, 2012

We really are a split state

Illinois truly has become a place split between “Chicagoland” and “Downstate.”
OBAMA: Overcomes rural opposition

It seems like we’re on two separate mindsets that only occasionally get thrown together – and can’t seem to “play nice” when those occur.

I COULDN’T HELP but notice the latest poll commissioned by the Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV concerning President Barack Obama.

The rural parts of Illinois (as in the ones that don’t view Chicago as a part of their daily existence) are down on our former member of the U.S. Senate.

Only 35 percent approve of the way Obama has handled the economy, and only 36 percent approve of Obama in general.

Yet the overall results show that Illinois remains a solid part of the Barack Obama bandwagon that could very well send him back to the White House for another term following the Nov. 6 elections.

FOR WITH APPROVAL ratings of 82 percent in Chicago and 63 percent in the Cook County suburbs (the area that accounts for about 45 percent of the state’s overall population), he has a solid base.

When one takes into account his 48 percent approval rating in the outer suburbs of Chicago (compared to 44 percent who disapprove), it means that the two-thirds of Illinois that is Chicago-area will overcome the resistance that is felt in the rest of the state.

In short, the 2012 elections in Illinois will look a lot like the 2010 election cycle – all those counties in red with just two or three blue blotches that can barely be seen by the naked eye.
EMANUEL: Wants handgun registry

Yet those two or three blotches will account for so many more people than the sea of red.

IF ANYTHING, THIS shows why the Democratic officials who gained control of the redistricting process handled the creation of new districts the way in which they did.

There simply aren’t many congressional or legislative districts that center around those “collar” counties (as in DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will). The people who live there will be voting in districts that are extensions of Cook County districts – and were drawn in ways so that the Cook County portions will likely prevail.

If that 48 percent (rather mediocre) approval rating were centered around specific districts, they could do some harm. Instead, Chicago and the inner suburbs will overcome their hesitancy and likely prevail.

And combined, they will “do in” the desires of places like Rockford or Danville or Marion. It all comes down to numbers. Which means we’ll hear a lot more grievances in coming years about how Chicago just overwhelmed the rest of Illinois.

IN SHORT, WE’RE going to see the regional partisanship grow to even more intense levels. Which is why I find it interesting that Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he’s pushing for a new measure related to handguns.

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley was already the anti-christ to many rural interests because of the continuous measures he pushed for related to restricting firearms.

It seems that Emanuel will follow in the same path, which is bound to instigate the regional split even moreso.

For Emanuel says he wants the General Assembly to approve an Illinois handgun registry.

CURRENTLY, PEOPLE ARE supposed to register their firearms with their local police. Emanuel wants something on a larger scale, saying that a statewide registry would make it easier for police here to figure out where all the illegal firearms are coming from.

As in the notion that it is the “rural” people who are peddling firearms to Chicagoans with a desire to do ill will upon others.

You just know this will stir up the resentment all the more – and not just because some will want to see it as a new tax (a $65 registration fee paid to the state whenever anyone buys a new handgun).
HARRIS: Wants marriage for all

At least Emanuel was honest enough to admit the difficulty in pushing for such a measure when he announced his intentions during an appearance in the far South Side Roseland neighborhood.

BECAUSE THERE ARE some people who will want to view this as an invasion of their privacy – the notion of having to provide their name, address and serial number of all their weapons. Then again, these are likely the same crackpots who think that state-issued driver’s licenses are somehow an un-Christian or un-American concept.

It will be interesting to see how many (actually, how few) rural legislators bother to take this bill (which has yet to be introduced) seriously. Somehow, I think it will be used for target practice by the members of the Illinois Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (which is what the rural legislators like to call themselves when they feel like sounding official).

It may even wind up being less liked in certain circles than the bill introduced at the Statehouse in Springpatch earlier this week by state Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, to create full marriage rights for gay couples – yet another issue that will expose the Land of Lincoln’s regional split.

And a split that ultimately will prevent serious solutions to problems from being achieved.


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