|Illinois a little of everything, just like U.S.|
How representative are they of the nation? Do they truly deserve to be thought of as being just like us?
FOR WHAT IT’S worth, the Chicago metropolitan area (which by their definition stretches north to Kenosha, Wis., and east to Gary, Ind.) is the seventh most like the U.S. city in the nation.
Also, Illinois is the state most like the United States as a whole. We’re what this country is all about.
Personally, I don’t find this unusual one bit.
For the fact is that Illinois is a place consisting of so many different types of people that it is a wonder we can seriously think of ourselves as a single state. And Chicago truly is the kind of place that has a little bit of everybody.
THE FACT IS there is no “typical” American, and our populations reveal that all too well.
Considering there are times when I think northern Illinois communities would be more comfortable as a part of Wisconsin, while central Illinois municipalities might well think of either Indiana or Iowa as a better fit.
Unless they happen to live near East St. Louis, in which case they align with Missouri.
And when it comes to the 30 or so southernmost counties of the state, Little Egypt probably really does think more highly of Kentucky and wonder how their home state isn’t a part of Dixie.
OF COURSE, those in metro Chicago often joke about how we’d be a better state if we didn’t have to carry all those other rubes who probably wish they were a part of some other state.
|From Chicago to Cairo, ...|
We don’t have a common identity in Illinois like they do in, say, Texas.
Just like we don’t have a common identity for our nation. We are a collection of regions, each with their own character. We manage to come together to amass a single nation – but that doesn’t mean any single region is willing to subvert itself to the character of the whole.
So Illinois’ split really does make us a microcosm of the nation as a whole. We have a little bit of everybody that makes up the nation.
HECK, THE NEW York Times came up with a study of how the 50 states should be done away with and replaced by seven regions – which would unite those of similar character.
As it is, Illinois would be split in that study into three regions – Great Lakes, Great Plains and the Southeast Manufacturing Belt.
Our Chicago would be in a “state” with Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City and Minneapolis.
Which I’m sure some would say have more in common than being in a state with Rockford, the Quad Cities and Marion.
NOW I’M NOT calling for any split like this. Personally, I always found the distinct regions that felt like separate places in and of themselves as being what made Illinois a unique place.
I enjoy sharing a boundary with a place like Champaign or Bloomington (where I went to college), or even the afore-mentioned town of Normal (which is a nice place to visit, but with 85.1 percent white people living there is not the norm for the United States).
Besides, I found it interesting to see that while Illinois was the state most like the nation as a whole, Indiana was a place third-most like what the U.S. was like back in the 1950s.
We in Illinois have progressed while our Hoosier neighbors haven’t. Which may be why no amount of political rhetoric about the superiority of Indiana will ever be believable.