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If you can’t win the game, change the rules.
That is state Rep. Bill Mitchell’s solution to the losing streak his Republican Party is suffering in statewide elections. On Tuesday, Mitchell and state Rep. Adam Brown, who both hail from Decatur, introduced a bill to separate Cook County from the rest of Illinois on the grounds of irreconcilable political differences.
“Downstate families are tired of Chicago dictating its views to the rest of us,” said Mitchell, who cited the death penalty repeal, the civil unions bill, the income tax increase and the failure to pass a conceal carry law as insults to rural conservatives. “You only have to look at the election results from last year’s governor’s race to see the problem. Cook County carried Pat Quinn, while almost every Downstate county supported Bill Brady. Our voters’ voices were drowned out by Chicago.”
According to Mitchell’s bill:
WHEREAS, The State of Illinois is functional to the extent that its people agree on politics, society, and economics; and
WHEREAS, The people who constitute a majority of Cook County and the people who constitute a majority of the other 101 counties in Illinois hold different and firmly seated views on these important questions; and
WHEREAS, Cook County, on one hand, and the other 101 counties, on the other, are each roughly equal in population; and
WHEREAS, Both groups should enjoy the chance to govern themselves with their firmly seated values.
As Ward Room has pointed out before, Republicans did not complain about the excessive influence of Cook County when they won seven consecutive gubernatorial elections, from 1976 to 1998. Or when Downstaters Alan Dixon and Paul Simon held both U.S. Senate seats, from 1981 to 1992.
The problem for Republicans isn’t that Cook County is more liberal than Downstate. The problem is that Mitchell’s Republican Party has become too conservative for Cook County. Pro-abortion rights Republicans Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar and George Ryan could count on the votes of fiscally conservative, socially liberal suburbanites. In last year’s gubernatorial election, Republican Bill Brady ran on an anti-abortion platform that alienated women in suburban Cook County.
Mitchell says that Illinois without Cook County would be “like Indiana,” a fiscally conservative state he admires.
“It’s very simple folks: We just do this and we’ll resemble Indiana more than the present, debt-ridden state of Illinois,” Mitchell told his hometown Herald & Review. “We can resemble Indiana, which has a lower debt, a lower unemployment rate and a lower deficit.”
I have a better idea: let’s pass a law removing Decatur from Illinois, due to its offensive odor. Unfortunately, there’d be no way to prevent the stench of roasting corn and soybeans from wafting across our new state lines. But at least we could keep its nonsensical geopolitical schemes out of the General Assembly.
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