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Question of the day

Tuesday, Jan 30, 2007

A couple of months ago, I went out with one of my best friends from grade school. We lived near each other on farms in rural Iroquois County, which is directly south of Kankakee.

Anyway, we spent quite a bit of time jostling back and forth over whether Chicago should be kicked out of Illinois. He said, only half-jokingly, that we ought to string a barbed wire fence around the city.

The evening came to mind after reading some comments this morning under a State Journal-Register story about Barack Obama’s Springfield presidential announcement and how the Prairie Capital Convention Center would be the backup site (the Old State Capitol will be the primary site). The first comment set off quite a fight.

Obama has no connection to spfld..stay in chicago with the majority of liberals, lincoln would turn over in his grave, he better be charged full price for the rent of the pccc!@!!!

Other comments included this one:

I dont know why he is paying attention to springfield when he hasnt before.


He is just using you, he is a liberal senator from chicago who will use the small midwest town backdrop as a hook, he is from chicago and that is where his roots are. He served his chicago district for 8 years, bomke was my senator in sangamon county.

Today’s question: Why do you think so many downstaters seem to hate Chicago and don’t consider it part of Illinois? Does racism explain some of it? Backwardsness? Or is it just the natural outgrowth of intense regional conflict over limited resources? Something else?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - bored now - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:08 am:

    this “feud” isn’t any different than any other state with a big city (boston, new york, etc). it’s very natural. personally, i don’t think it matters much if obama announces in springfield or chicago — neither one of them are on the coasts.

  2. - Crimefighter - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:15 am:

    The mindset of Chicago is EXTREMELY different from downstate Illinois. Chicago is bluer than midnight, while conservatives live downstate. Chicago seems to decide a lot of things for Illinois, simply because they’re all clustered together while everyone else is spread out. Downstates say in things have continually eroded as the years have went on. Chicago just does not reflect anything downstate anymore.

  3. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:18 am:

    Crimefighter, why should Chicago have to “reflect anything downstate”?

  4. - Pat Hickey - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:19 am:

    Chicago has more oxen to gore - You can not blame so many regions in the State for the resentment felt against the Second City. No racism is not the cause. It is the cause everything else in the universe, but this one item.

    Teutopopoitans would detest Vanna White if she were wearing Obama’s Armani - propbably more so.

  5. - 105th Blues - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:20 am:

    Something else:

    When I lived in Upstate NY we had the same view of NYC. It was purely a view from a resource allocation and fairness standpoint, where it was viewed as the primary reason we had higher taxes to subsidize expenditures and wellfare in NYC as opposed to needs in Upstate NY. The same can be said here too. Why should I feel happy about my state income taxes, gas tax and all these outrageous fees that are (mostly) going to pay for ammenities, universities, and other nice things in Chicago instead of where I live? Also there is a condescending arrogant “better than everyone else” attitude and sense of entitlement present in many folks from Chicago. I am tired of being referred to by them as somebody “living in the sticks or boondocks” when I live in a downstate city of close to 100,000 people. I personally think that there is no consideration whatsoever for anything outside of or south of I-80 which fuels this divide.

  6. - Tom - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:21 am:

    Conflict over limited resources explains much of it. Chicago, the suburbs, downstate all believe they are slighted. Also having all statewide offices held by one party from one city creates resentment. Racism, no, as downstate cities have significant black populations as well.

    Keep in mind this “hatred” flows both ways as many Chicagoans look down their noses at the rest of the state.

  7. - anon - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:23 am:

    A bit off topic but you gotta love someone touting Bomke as a contrast to a liberal Obama. Let’s see, when Gov. Rod Blagojevich needed Republican votes in order to borrow billions of dollars to pay for his spending, who rolled? Bomke.

  8. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:28 am:

    More xenophobia than racism….Central Illinoisians fear Chicago even though most of us haven’t been there since elementary school.

    Also, everyone who’s ever visited Springfield knows it’s something of a backward town — where karaoke is the main form of live entertainment. Chicagoans, though, make the mistake of saying that outloud, to Springfieldians, who don’t like to hear other folks say what they’re thinking.

    The irony is, very few of the folks I know living in Springfield can actually claim to be from Springfield, and the ones that are from Springfield don’t seem to mind Chicagoans that much. It’s those who’s lives have ended up in Springfield instead of Chicago who seem to loathe the Windy City the most. Sour grapes? Maybe.

  9. - leigh - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:29 am:

    I don’t think race has anything to do with it. I get a sense when talking to downstaters that they feel like all of their tax money goes to Chicago and all new school funding will go to Chicago.

  10. - Anon - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:31 am:

    I grew up downstate and have lived in or near Chicago on-or-off for 10 years or so. Pitting Chicago against downstate serves the political powers that be because political division is easier than political addition. But there’s really no difference between the issues facing the two regions, and — having experienced Chicago-area roads firsthand for years, I can tell you that no downstate legislator would survive one term with roads and schools as cruddy as those up here.

    The Springfield location of the announcement is a useful way for Obama to highlight his experience at actually getting things done across the aisle, like videotaped interrogations and the pre-AllKids expanded children’s health care, both of which were real bipartisan successes that no one believed would ever happen. Since Governors usually fare better in presidential contests, playing up real-world state experience is a good contrast with the 37 other Senators running for President.

  11. - cermak_rd - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:33 am:

    The reason downstate IL has been losing influence in the rest of the state is that its population has been shrinking. Check the census and see which towns saw net decreases. Chicago, manages to at least not lose too many people because of immigration. Downstate used to be able to rely on a coalition with the Cook county burbs, but as the Cook county burbs have become bluer, and downstate has shrunk, that coalition has falllen apart.

  12. - Archpundit - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:35 am:

    State expenditures per person tend to be higher in rural areas than in urban areas. There’s a fairly simple reason for this in that infrastructure like roads means rural areas receive more per person than other areas. So ignorance is the first cause–rural areas don’t get that their areas are subsidized at a greater rate than urban areas. That’s not necessarily unfair for some of the reasons I mention above, but it is silly whining.

    I have to disagree with YDD. Growing up in Central Illinois the complaint about Chicago was almost always about welfare and corruption. The welfare complaint was always tinged with racial connotations as if no one downstate ever received welfare–like farmers and black politicians’ corruption was always worse than white politicians downstate like, oh, George Ryan.

  13. - Anon - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:38 am:

    I’m going to have to sign on with 105th Blues. The huge concentration of people allows them to vote for themselves a disproportionate share of the pie. A reasonable portion of the resources would, of course, be substantial, but, it seems, not enough.

    Related to that, I think it’s a matter of arrogance on the part of Chicagoans. I grew up in the St. Louis metro-east area, and may have gone to Chicago once as a small child (I don’t remember for sure), but not more than once before I took the bar exam up there. Interesting that, when I got on the airplane at Lambert, the lady sitting next to me was from somewhere in the Chicago ‘burbs. A guy I knew from the bar prep class walked by and said “Hi – Are you ready for this?” The lady in the next seat asked if I was going to Chicago for a conference. I told her no, I was taking the bar exam. She asked “The Illinois bar exam?” I said yeah. She queried, “But we’re in St. Louis, that’s Missouri, right?” I said yes, but I lived just a little way across the river. She responded “You live in Illinois, but not in Chicago??!” I resisted the urge to let her know that Illinois went pretty far down past 80, damn near to Kentucky.

    In my current position, I get to work with a lot of people from Chicago, and go there (too) frequently. Not that I’d ever consider living there. Though I no longer live in the St. Louis area, either, I frequently get to play host to Chicagoans there. I find that, though they want to be dismissive, they often end up admiring that city in spite of themselves. Don’t even get me started on taking Chicago natives to Southern Illinois. The culture shock of The Blue Room in New Minden or 17th Street Bar and Grill in Murphysboro is downright amusing to observe.

  14. - anon - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:40 am:

    The views of Chicago aren’t the same as the rest of the state. Just look at the last presidential election by county in Illinois. The entire state was red except for a very few, but, because it was the right few that were blue, the entire state went that way. It makes the rest of the state think that the views of Chicago are being imposed on the entire state, which doesn’t think the same way as the northeast corner. This can be seen in any gun regulation. Why does a Chicago politian believe it’s necessary to regulate guns in the entire state when the City of Chicago has it’s own gun regulations. Has a state legislator from any other part of the state ever introduced gun regulation legislation in Illinois? I don’t know the exact answer, but I could take a good guess.

  15. - Left Leaner - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:44 am:

    As a downstater now living in Chicago, my perception is that it’s just normal regional conflict and some bitterness spawned by ignorance from both sides.

    It turns into a perceived city slickers vs. hillbillies, when my experience is that we all have a lot more in common than we all typically think. Biggest commonality - we’re blue collar to the bone - whether we’re working a farm or behind a desk.

    I think that Illinois is one of the strongest states in the union because of the fact that we represent such a broad cross section of Americans. And a little conflict just comes naturally.

  16. - He Makes Ryan look like a saint - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:45 am:

    When this Gov Admin came in, they treated the downstaters like we were stupid, backwards and couldn’t run a thing. THey tried to impress us with their 1000 dollar suits and buzz words. I think it showed a lot of the thoughts of the Chicagoans.

    Now, 4 years later, a lot of them are gone and the stupid Southerners are keeping the state running, in spite of them.

  17. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:45 am:

    I’ll second ArchPundit’s memories. I have the same ones.

  18. - 105th Blues - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:54 am:

    Perhaps state expenditures per person in rural areas are higher, (obviously if I spend 100 million on a highway that cuts through farmland with 2 people living there, it impacts the statistics of dollar spent per person) but the actually utility per dollar and net benefit received by downstate folks per dollar spent on taxes are much lower in that perspective. I.e. we don’t see art museums, stadiums, similar efforts to attract business via state grants and help, the U of I doesn’t get as many bucks or actual cuts compared to Chicago area universities etc. So look at what the money is being spent on and the benefit per person instead of actual dollars (as in the highway example)

  19. - Objective Dem - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:55 am:

    There are multiple reasons for the divide.

    To be honest, I very rarely hear people in Chicago discussing the non-metro parts of the state. They may talk about the suburbs (typically unfavorably) but downstate doesn’t even register. On the other hand, I can rarely go downstate without someone making a negative comment about Chicago.

    Second, when it comes to state laws, it is difficult to balance the needs of a major urban city with rural areas. For instance, the teenage driving debate is different if you live on a farm where you have to drive everywhere compared to an urban neighborhood with mass transit.

    There is the competition for state funds.
    While downstaters are obsessed with Chicago hogging resources, I seldom hear people in Chicago complain about all the state money that goes downstate for universities, parks, highways, prisons, airports, convention centers, etc.

    Another increasingly significant issue is commercial competition. Store owners downstate worry about losing customers to shops on Michigan Ave. Banks worry about losing out to Chicago banks. Newspapers compete against the Tribune. The Chicago metro area grows, while other areas shrink.

    The other issue I see is downstate often loses some of their best and brightest to Chicago. Children from downstate who are ambitious and smart often migrate to Chicago. There is a resentment that the hometown was abandoned and the corresponding self-defensive attitude that “our small town must not be good enough for Mr/Ms hotshot”

    One last observation, I don’t hear anywhere near the same level of animosity against St. Louis. If anything it is viewed at the welcome alternative.

  20. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:57 am:


    And those tazpayers are right. Take a look at the HALF BILLION dollar cost overruns on the Dan Ryan expressway in Chicago, an expressway that runs right through the city but upon which few Downstaters will spend much time driving. Courtesy of Blago and honcho Tim Martin who has departed for greener pastures likely in the (Chicago) private sector.

    Think this isn’t going to affect funding for Downstate roads?

    Downstaters have been remarkably passive about all this, suggesting that at least some of the responsibility for sucking resources out of Donwstate and into Cook County is a direct result of their pasivity.

  21. - JP Val - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:58 am:

    Building envy

  22. - Pat Hickey - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:00 am:

    Objective Dem,

    We are thoughtless - here, you can have Forrest Claypool back - he’s about done here, anyway. We’ll throw in Quigley - No? had to try.

  23. - Rollo Spumoni - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:02 am:

    It’s a function of the politics, pure and simple.

    Chicagoland has been the population/economic center of the state for generations. As such, it drives the statehouse policy debate, and always will. For Democrats, this means catering to the city, for the Republican’s it means catering to the suburbs.

    Which means downstaters rarely wield real influence in state government politics. Even when downstaters have made it to the Governor’s office (like Edgar and Ryan), they weren’t pushing a downstate agenda, they were pushing a suburban agenda.

    Which means campaigns in downstate for years have been value-based around the idea of “us vs. Chicago”.

    Most people don’t visit Chicago much, so that’s about the extent of what they know about it.

  24. - Anon from 10:38 - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:03 am:


    That isn’t exactly my memory. Probably a function of geography. ArchPundit’s memories are similar to mine, though. Those criticisms were directed at East St. Louis, not Chicago. Chicago didn’t really register, except when Royko was insulting us. . .

  25. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:07 am:

    ===Those criticisms were directed at East St. Louis, not Chicago===

    Then you lived much closer to E. St. Louis than I did. There was never any talk about that town where I grew up. Always Chicago.

  26. - So-Called "Austin Mayor" - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:08 am:


    This one time, a guy my friend knows went to Chicago to see a game and afterwards he and his friends went out to have a few drinks and when he got back to his hotel his wallet was missing! And he’s pretty sure that a black guy bumped into him on the subway and took it! And when they called the police, they didn’t solve this very important crime! Thus, the entire city of Chicago is corrupt.

    And that is why country mice hate city mice.

    – SCAM

  27. - babs - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:11 am:

    I remember Evan Bayh once describing Indiana as “Illinois without Chicago” - I’d rather have both. As one who was born and raised in Chicago, Springfield is viewed by most of my neighbors the same way that Washington DC is - they take my money and don’t give me anything back. Downstate isn’t the same as Springfield. Downstate has as many descriptions as any other area - it depends on the person doing the viewing - it can be anything from negative (hicks, backwards) to positive (open land, rugged, adventuresome - to some city folks Alton is downright mysterious). But I really think people differentiate between the Capitol and the rest of downstate.

  28. - Gene Parmesan - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:13 am:

    Actually, that post is exactly why country mice don’t like city mice. Condescension.

  29. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:14 am:

    ===I.e. we don’t see art museums, stadiums, similar efforts to attract business via state grants and help, the U of I doesn’t get as many bucks or actual cuts compared to Chicago area universities etc. So look at what the money is being spent on and the benefit per person instead of actual dollars (as in the highway example)

    Actually, there are a lot of grants for downstate and while I don’t have anything handy, it’s pretty close if not still a bit of an advantage for downstate. I won’t defend Governor’s State and Jones’ protection of it, but U of I, ISU, Eastern, Western, Southern (and years ago Northern before it became part of the sprawl) all have significant Chicago attendance–meaning that dollars are distributed downstate for those institutions even though you could easily move a couple up to the Chicago area if you were simply targeting students.

    Having only lived in the Chicago area for about 8 months, I’ve always found the victimhood downstate a bit weird. Beyond that, for most people in Central Illinois (different in Metro East and South since St. Louis is closer) do have access to most of the cultural attractions as well as Chicago people having access to parks in other parts of the state such as Springfield and local museums that have state funding directly or through universities.

    I don’t think the problem is one way, but the particular complaints I have always heard downstate are irrational in comparison to actual state dollars–the general animosity is also irrational and I still chafe at Normal being called Southern Illinois.

  30. - Pat Hickey - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:18 am:


    When I taught in Kankakee ( 1975-1987), one of my only moving violations occured - did not see the drop from 50 MPH to 30MPH at the edge of Manteno on Rt. 50 - I mentioned Ald. Bob Kellam of Chicago’s 18th Ward and the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Officer carefully printed the citation for exceeding the speed limits and ‘noticed’ that my left turn signal was also out.
    I am just glad I did not mention Marty Russo or I would have received the Death Penalty ( still enforced - circa 1977).

  31. - ZC - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:19 am:

    I think it’s kind of striking how north-to-south the attention gap seems to be in this state. For some Highland Park residents, Chicago barely exists unless they work there or want to go on a fun weekend. For a Chicago North Sider, they know where Highland Park is, but anything south of the Loop may be foreign territory. Chicagoans basically don’t think much about downstate. Now I hear that Central Illinoisans apparently don’t talk or think much about E. St Louis? Do Springfield residents generally not discuss Little Egypt?

  32. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:21 am:

    I am a Chicagoan living in Springfield. So is my wife. We love Springfield, but miss Chicago.

    When Illinois’ northern boundary was pushed north of the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan, it was done so purposefully. Congress didn’t want more pro-slave states, so Indiana and Illinois was purposefully drawn so that it’s norther border allowed for Great Lakes access. These people saw that great cities would grow on the banks of this inland sea, and would create a balance between North and South. Daniel Cook would probably laugh at us discussing this today. He knew this would happen and wanted it to happen. Thanks to him and other legislators, Illinois was a free state, and a Northern one.

    River settlers moved into our state first. These folks came from the South. Illinois didn’t have a Chicago for almost 20 years! So, we had a state culture before Chicago’s first year. When you leave Chicagoland, you enter another culture - one rooted in the South, not the North.

    My neighbors are more similar to Kentucky than to New York. Their accents, their family values, what they drive, eat, think are different than what is found in The Loop. There is A mall, no traffic, no pollution, warmer weather, and smiles from strangers.

    We used to have great southern Democrats like Paul Simon, Abraham Lincoln, Glen Poshard, and Roland Burris balancing the Chicagocrats. That is no longer the case. Today, we have local Chicagoans running an entire state, without regards to the other 101 counties. Dick Durbin is the loan holdout from Springfield.

    The Illinois Democratic Party has not reached out to Downstate Illinoians for leadership since 1998. Ten years of political neglect will hurt some feelings, won’t it? It is impossible to believe that The Party couldn’t reach out to ONE person outside of their area code to tap for the statewide ticket. This exacerbates the hard feelings between the two Illinois cultures.

  33. - grand old partisan - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:23 am:

    Very interesting question, Rich.

    Not being from downstate, I can only speculate as to why there is an animosity. I think it’s far more complex than most would acknowledge: a mix of xenophobia, resentment, jealousy, and a repudiation of “city values” (anti-gun, pro-choice, pro-gay rights, etc.).

    Whatever the root cause, however, you can now add another – more politically potent one - to the list: an “oppressed minority” complex. Look at the home address of all the state’s leaders. The Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer, Comptroller, Sec of State, Speaker of the House and Senate President all live in Chicago. What’s even worse: the Gov, AG, and Comptroller are not people who “earned” their offices through a lifelong career of service to the community; they are the relatively young scions of powerful Chicago families. Is anyone surprised that downstate resentment of Chicago is at an all-time high?

  34. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:25 am:

    ======Those criticisms were directed at East St. Louis, not Chicago===

    In Bloomington-Normal, it was equal opportunity, but it was always clear to me that Chicago was the bigee.

  35. - Colt 45 - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:25 am:

    Another topic of conversation that I’ve heard in all corners of the state is that of the difference between a Chicago Democrat and a Downstate Democrat. I believe that there is a significant difference and that as long as downstaters continue to vote for Democrats at the state level, their votes elect legislators who become members of a caucus driven by an agenda both socially and fiscally geared toward the City. I don’t believe that the Green Party or another third party is the answer and I do believe that the Republicans have failed to capitalize on what, to me, appears completely obvious. In other words, from the perspective of the state of affairs of state government, a lot of the blame that downstaters direct toward Chicago must be laid directly at their own feet.

  36. - Pat Hickey - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:26 am:

    As fine and poetic a historical perspective as can be crafted. Well, done.

    I’ll say this for the Illinois Tribes, they knew how to stake out a good homeland. Laporte, In has snow up to the hips. Now, that is thinking strategically.

  37. - i d - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:27 am:

    My nickname stands for independent downstater. One thing that I don’t like is the fact that downstaters are paid less for doing the exact same work. That, to me, is no different than paying men and woman different salaries for doing the same work. But the main reason that I have complete loathing for your city is that I will never ever again be able to indulge in my passion for the real, authentic, utterly extraordinary Fannie May truffles and trinidads. My contempt for “you all” has no bounds.

  38. - So-Called "Austin Mayor" - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:31 am:

    Gene Parmesan,

    I *am* a country mouse. The 6:59 express from Glen Ellyn to Chicago has a bigger population than the town where I grew up.

    Did you really think I made that story up out of whole cloth? My own family’s version of this story involves an uncle who went to the Big City to see a football game, got roaring drunk, fell into a ditch and drowned and/or froze to death. Of course by the time his body was found days later, his wallet was missing. The only possible conclusions: He was mugged! He was killed in a gang initiation! Satanists!

    Of course, many city and suburban folks are equally terrified by rural areas, e.g. too open, too many “scary rednecks”, too many guns, etc.

    But the fact that the narrow-mindedness is reciprocated does not mean it doesn’t exist.

    – SCAM

  39. - Ali Bin Haddin - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:33 am:

    The two biggest reasons are ignorance and arrogance. There is enough to go around for all sides. Remember when our tourism slogan was, “Just outside Chicago, there is a place called Illinois.” Recently I conversed with people from Dupage county who took a bike tour on the Great River Road. They were amazed at the scenic beauty, the friendly people and the fact that the natives spoke some form of English.

  40. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:35 am:

    I went to three colleges before I got my bachelor’s. Two of them had a large amount of Chicagoans and suburbanites. To me - in both my collegiate and real-world experiences - the suburbanites have been worse. They look at downstate as “poor” and “dumb” and “uneducated” and “needy”. They resented having to go to school downstate, and often times visits to ISU or the U of I resulted in hearing several derogatory comments about people from central and southern Illinois. Even the Metro Easterners (is that even a word?!) were slammed because of the suburbanites’ bad opinion of St. Louis. And to me, it’s not even a “south of I-80″ issue; it’s an “anywhere outside of the collar counties” issue.

    I actually think that downstate and Chicago have a decent amount in common. Fighting for tax dollars, the need for public assistance, ongoing budget problems, public projects…I just don’t see those same issues being as prevalent in the suburbs.

    Politically, however, there is a fight. The values are different and the priorities are light years apart. Northern Illinois politicians seem to be more overbearing and the political scene is filled with people who think they are too important.

    What a silly issue. Just cut Chicago off and let it float into Lake Michigan. Christen it “Chicago Island” and add a star to the flag.

  41. - So-Called "Austin Mayor" - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:35 am:


    Nothing is scarier than another guy’s crooked cops. And to city mice all country cops are crooked and mice versa.

    – SCAM

  42. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:45 am:

    GOP, good point. All six of the constitutionals are from a very close radius. Only of the eight statewide officers is from downstate: Dick Durbin.

  43. - Scoot - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:45 am:

    As a Republican and living in the states capitol I feel it is Sen. Obama’s decision on where to kickoff his 08′ election for the White House. I didn’t vote for him in 04′ and won’t in 08′…and is not because he is from Chicago or his race. I like a McCain-Giuliani ticket in 08.’

    I have friends who live in the city and suburbs and I love it up there…especially in the city. And they due have a downstate bias and we have an upstate bias, but put the little stuff aside and go visit the city that is home to the NFL’s best team - Da Bears! I love campaigning up there rather then down here and remember there is alot of good republicans from Chicago as well.

  44. - irishpirate - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:46 am:


    we Chicagoans send our criminals downstate to prisons.

    You downstateoids get decent paying prison jobs.

    What more do you want?


  45. - Robbie - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:53 am:

    I live in Galesburg. We are a totally blue area so we don’t see that whole “Chicago is a bunch of liberal idiots and we are a bunch of red necks” angle that many of the more rural areas see. I have known very little Chicago bias growing up. Politically people in this area tend to think that Chicago is hopelessly corrupt and that they dominate state politics. I personally go to Chicago frequently and enjoy the city. I hadn’t realized so many downstaters never go there. I guess having Amtrak makes it a lot easier. I went to a small liberal arts college that recruits heavily from both the city and the burbs. I know lots of kids from the Chicago area. I personally liked most of the city kids I met and was usually turned off by the more uppity suburban kids.

    A lot of this issue seems to me that it isn’t downstate vs. Chicago, but it’s places like Springfield and Rockford complaining that they don’t get enough attention. Myself, I don’t mind that the Dan Ryan is getting an overhaul. I have driven it and it needs every extra lane it can get. Even though I might only use it once every year or two, I prefer that getting attention than my crappy little stretch of I-74 I drive every day. But that’s just because I can look past my own selfishness.

  46. - just a thought - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:54 am:

    Rich, back in 81 or 82 there was a (joke) resolution introduced to make Chicago it’s own state. I have a hard copy somewhere. If you want an idea of why there seems to be animosity toward Chicago and their politics, you only need to count the dead voters from the past, try to figure out how Harold Washington beat Bernie Epton for mayor, and look at the continued corruption of their city government.

  47. - Harry Hopkins - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:54 am:

    Downstaters call a bag a “sack”. This explains everything

  48. - SpfldPolitico - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:57 am:

    I think its more Chicago forgetting about the rest of the state period,,,,not just springfield. i used to work in state government and did a lot of advance work for a few statewide politicians and often they would consider peoria, galesburg, even Kankakee as down state IL, and i even heard a politician one time refer to Bloomington as southern IL. South of I 80 does not exist for most chicagoans, and I feel that is what the division is, Now that all the leading politicians are from chicago and nw that Topinka is gone the rest of the state should beware as all the money will continue to migrate north - praise Senator Maitland - he was always very good about making sure the rest of the state got their just rewards outside of Chicago - sad day for IL when he retired from politics. I know it was health related!

  49. - Pat Hickey - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:58 am:


    It was Really scary, because those cops down there do not ‘know how much a hat costs’ nor did they indicate ‘ Mr. Hickey, you were going $50 over the posted speed limit.’

    Now, that scares me! I clutch to familiar ‘ aren’t you Ed Swanson’s nephew? No sweat kid this will only cost you a lung. Leave it in the hat.’

  50. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 12:00 pm:

    ***try to figure out how Harold Washington beat Bernie Epton for mayor***

    Um, huh?

  51. - Scott - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 12:04 pm:

    I live downstate and all my Chicago relatives think I’m a county bumpkin. Even the ones from subburbs. I live in the Quad Cities, which has more than 400,000 people (some in Illinois, some in Iowa). And yes, they do put my stuff in a sack at the store.

  52. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 12:06 pm:

    As a downstater living in Chicago, I blame the Cubs fans. Who can stand such people? :)

  53. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 12:09 pm:


  54. - Anon too - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 12:22 pm:

    Honestly, growing up in the ‘burbs I had no real concept of downstate. I thought all of Illinois loved Chicago (my grandparents lived on a farm in northwest Ill. and they still read the Trib). One of my first days in Spfld, somebody was talking about Metro East and I had no idea what they were referring to… even after going to school downstate. I was shocked — appalled even — when the Spfld TV stations were broadcasting Rams games over Bears games.

    Honestly, the most disparaging things I’ve heard from my fellow suburbanites about downstate is that it’s flat and boring. But those complaints are more gripes than hatred.

    A lot of downstaters, on the other hand, seem to hate Chicago with a passion. There’s the perception that they’re throwing good money after bad. (They forget that their six-lane highway through Marion is all paid for through state funds, while suburbanites get the joy of paying tolls for rundown roads.) And the corruption.

    But I think it’s more of a sense of being left out, overlooked, taken for granted, etc. Springfield, the south suburbs and Rockford (especially Rockford) view the world through the lens of whether they’re getting the respect they deserve or whether they’re getting dissed. Many times they’re right about their complaints. But if I have to read one more time about how Blago isn’t living in the executive mansion, I’m gonna barf. Who cares? Take him!

    My biggest complaint about the downstate mentality is having to defend myself all the time. Two-thirds of Illinois lives in Chicago or the suburbs — despite the colder weather, the backed up traffic and the lack of space. So obviously it has something going for it. I’ve yet to hear from someone who’s been to Chicago who’s not from downstate that they hate the place. So why the constant sniping? Enough, already.

  55. - (618) Democrat - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 12:28 pm:

    Chicago is he best city in the United States. There are alot of us who live in Southern Illinois who love the great city of Chicago and are proud of the fact that it is one of Illinois’ greatest assets.

  56. - Bridget Dooley - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 12:32 pm:

    I haven’t spent much time downstate, but it sure seems like it’s a city mouse and country mouse thing.

  57. - Paul Richardson - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 12:42 pm:

    Ouch…low blow, low blow…

  58. - Bomber91 - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 12:43 pm:

    I went to high school in Macomb, was stationed in Great Lakes when I was in the Navy, went to college at WIU then moved to Springfied for work. I’ve seen my share of Illinois and I don’t believe that it’s racism on the part of downstaters. It’s the fact that we’re tired of being constantly ignored by the state’s leaders (ie. Chicago Democrats). When all else fails, complain!

    What unites us is always stronger than what divides us. We’re all Americans and have a strong sense of Midwestern values. That and Da Bears.

  59. - Reddbyrd - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 12:45 pm:

    Both sides make good points, but I think the real point is Barack wants to tie into Lincoln and it is a mere coincidence that Springfield is downstate.
    More importantly let us remember we only have about 15 days til pitchers and catchers report!

  60. - Harry Hopkins - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:01 pm:

    Chicago is the greatest city in the nation and we are lucky to have it.

    I’ve lived in Champaign and Charleston and I’ve traveled to most the cities in west, central and southern Illinois. They all seem to be great places to live and have something to offer unless you’re Mike Ditka.

    As a someone who lives and grew up in the suburbs, I think the real shame is that most of these towns seem to be abandoning their charm and history and becoming more suburbanized. Those are choices the locals will have to make.

    It’s a shame that more people around Chicago don’t know or appreciate what the rest of the state has to offer. In all honesty however, if I am going to drive two or three hours one way on the weekend, I will probably go to Wisconsin or Michigan.

  61. - Lovie's Leather - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:03 pm:

    Hey, Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar got along great. One was from Chicago and one was from Charleston. So you see, it doesn’t matter where you are from, as long as we are all Republicans. Yeah.

  62. - Bomber91 - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:06 pm:

    Forgot to put that, while I’d never pull a Democrat primary ballot in my life, I will go see Obama’s announcment. It’s history in the making regardless of the location. Reddbryd does make good points including baseball which seems to be the one thing that divides rips our fair state and Chicago in particular along some serious fault lines. Go Cubs!

  63. - Pat Hickey - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:12 pm:

    It’s a shame that more people around Chicago don’t know or appreciate what the rest of the state has to offer.

    This is true - $8.50 for a Smithwick’s at Kitty O’Shea’s on Michigan Ave. or $10 long-neck buckets of Bud at the Papineau Collesium.

    Chicken fried Steak at Blue’ s Cafe on Station St. in Kankakee or Taylor Street Chicken at Tufano’s or Vernon Parkway Tap to tourists.

    White Sox or St. Louis Cardinals

    Yep things balance, nicely in this Great State!

  64. - JUstice - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:18 pm:

    I’m not sure that I know people from these parts who hate Chicago. In addition, I have never heard “Chicago racism” being discussed, other than to talk about profiling in our anti-terror efforts. Perhaps the biggest issue is that all of Illinois deserves equal representation and distribution of funds and resources, and it appears that Chicago gets more than its fair share. The governot doesn’t do much to ingratiate those of us downstate to Chicago. As for the windy city, I love it and am proud it’s a great part of Illinois.

  65. - Justice - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:19 pm:

    Sorry about the name spelling…cold hands!!

  66. - Gus Frerotte's Clipboard - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:27 pm:

    This dynamic is common in many states, including the one where I was raised. The big-city folk think they’re important and sophisticated, and that downstaters (or upstaters, depending on the state) are a bunch of rubes. The small town folk like the sense of community they have, and think the big cities are full of crime and corruption. The suburbanites identify with the city because it’s part of their metropolitan area, but don’t see themselves as fiscally aligned with either the city or the rural areas. New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts … we are not alone in this.

    I grew up in a small town and hated it, but now, living in the Chicago area, I have a much greater appreciation of small town life (even though it’s not for me). And I agree with the commenters who’ve noted that rural areas and cities have more in common than suburbs. There are a lot of state funding lines tied to poverty that benefit the city and downstate at the same time — and a lot of downstate projects that would never get built without tax revenue from the Chicagoland area.

    I think given that Barack Obama has positioned him as a joiner who crosses traditional boundaries, it makes sense for him to make his announcement in a smaller city (one with a lot of history, and one where he did in fact used to work). I think it’s an entirely fitting backdrop.

    On the larger point, here’s the bottom line. People who are insecure about themselves (Chicagoans with a complex about New York, for example) will always try to prop themselves up by making fun of where other people live. People who are comfortable with themselves can love where they live even as they acknowledge the benefits of living elsewhere. That cuts across all geographic lines.

  67. - Belle - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:31 pm:

    city mouse/country mouse; conservative/liberal; oil/water - Chicagoans must like to be used. Why would Obama announce here? Lincoln…people downstate don’t like quite as much hipocracy in their diet.

  68. - Harry Hopkins - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:35 pm:

    Oh, Belle.

  69. - Patriot - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:39 pm:

    The Daley Political Machine put Governor Blagoyjevich in office. Blago is nothing more than a “GINO” or a Governor In Name Only. Daley is actually the Governor of Illinois. This is why downstaters cannot get a fair shake and resent Chicago politicians.

  70. - just a thought - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:42 pm:

    Sorry, Rich. Here’s an exerpt from an article on “His distracted air carried over into his professional life as well. The Illinois Supreme Court suspended his law license for a year in 1970 for failing to perform work for several of his clients. The Internal Revenue Service fined him $1,000 and sentenced him to 40 days in jail for failing to file income tax returns for four years, despite the fact that he only owed $505.08.”
    How does a lawyer NOT file taxes?…and how could he only owe $500 after 4 years? Something’s more than a little fishy.

  71. - SouthernILRepub - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:44 pm:

    It is simply a matter of ignorance from both sides. Those of us from the South aren’t used to the traffic congestion and the lack of yard space. Northern Illinoisans see the South, Central as dark and creepy. If Chicago were seperated from Illinois we would quickly become an Iowa or Indiana-lite. For me those are two scary propositions. I can’t stand Hoosiers and Iowa is even more desolate than Central Illinois. The main problem is that when budgets are proposed it seems that percentages are not based equally. For instance if there are budget cuts, Central and Southern (DOT) regions are likely to see double digit loses versus a single digit loss for a Chicago or even suburban district. If you cut 4% in Chicago cut the same percentage statewide. Look at the pension systems as well, the Chicago teachers pensions were fully funded but downstate pensions were not. One can easily make the argument that while the spending of the Ryan administration was not fiscally sound, at least everyone across the state got something for the increases in infrastructure and member projects. Southerners who are educated on the issues won’t demand more than our fair share, but we just want to make sure that our share at least reflects the minority of the population that we do have and not less or more.

  72. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:47 pm:

    JAT, I still don’t get what you mean. Fishy how? Do you really think Harold Washington stole the election from the Machine candidate?

  73. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:48 pm:

    And Patriot, you are applying a “today” argument about a hatred that has burned for years. Try again, please.

  74. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:48 pm:

    By the way, it’s soda, not pop. Pop is a punch in the face, not a tasty carbonated beverage.

    Mr. Hopkins has a great point. Many smaller areas downstate are pushing promising students and young families out due to poor schools, a lack of white collar jobs, discouraged civic leaders and (perhaps) a refusal by some members of the community to let stores and infrastructure into the area. Where else can they go? The two main options for people in this situation are St. Louis and Chicago. It is becoming more apparent that a lack of civic pride and, in some instances, a laziness on the part of local officials are killing small areas in this state and other areas.

    I suggest checking out “Boomtown” by Jack Schultz. It’s a great read and highlights why some towns flourish and others dry up.

  75. - Smack-o-cratic - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:52 pm:

    Great question Rich, for getting us all ginned-up.

    My 2 cents - a lot of ignorance from all sides. People fear the unknown and fear brings on distrust, condemnation, loathing, etc. What I think many from downstate dislike is the issue of representation at the capitol. The seat of power rests firmly in Chicago. A difficult but pragmatic thing folks have to face.

    Chicago seldom comes up in conversations with my downstate friends except when discussing Cubs, Cards, Sox, Rams and those SUPER BOWL BEARS!

    I have friends from ever part of the State and even the Ram fans in Metro-East are rooting for the Bears.

  76. - Slick Willy - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:54 pm:

    “Dick Durbin is the lone holdout from Springfield.”

    God help us all.

  77. - just a thought - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:54 pm:

    Not at all. Once he won the primary, I’m sure the Machine got behind him. Anything to keep a republican out. From my exposure, as an employee of the House 81 - 83, one of the more sincere Reps that served.

  78. - Bubs - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:55 pm:

    Ahhh, the Downstaters have never gotten over the reversal of the Chicago River, which sent city sewage towards St. Louis.

    It’s looked at as a metaphor for a lot of things.

  79. - U of I Dem - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:55 pm:

    I second the rural vs. urban argument, although there is definitely a racial element. In the 52nd district Senate race (Myers-Frerichs) this past election, the Champaign News-Gazette printed a large advertisement that depicted “black felons” being bused down from big, bad Chicago in order to harass voters in Republican precincts. So, there is definitely some racial animosity.

    Also, the addition of Section 8 housing in a lot of central/southern Illinois towns over the past few decades has only served to increase the racial and geographic tension, as some locals view these new residents as “black welfare queens from Chicago.”

  80. - Anon - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:57 pm:

    There are two downstates. Sangamon County and the rest of Illinois south of I-80.

    For the most part I find people in downstate amused by Chicago, the good and bad of the city.

    Sangamon County tends to fuel the anti-Chicago thing. The last four years have not been fun for the Red County who for years sent their sons and daughters to work for the state and then saw them vote for GOP candidates in huge numbers. When Rod did not pat state workers on the head and tell them how wonderful they were, they threw a fit. And continue to do. People in Sangamon County tend to what to live in the same neighborhoods their parents did, go to the same schools their parents did, worship at the same church their parents did and hang out and work with people they have known their whole lives. Chicago is way too big for them and way too forward thinking. I know, I live in Sangamon County.

  81. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:58 pm:

    JAT, perhaps you should look at some history before going forward with your thesis.

  82. - Fan of the Game - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:59 pm:

    “Or is it just the natural outgrowth of intense regional conflict over limited resources?”

    That’s it mostly. I have lived in central and southern Illinois my whole life, and there is a lot of animosity shown when the bulk of resources go to the Big City, sometimes for projects that offend our rural values.

    However, we who do not live in Chicago must remember that the City of Big Shoulders is the engine that keeps Illinois running. Chicago gets the bulk of resources because it generates the bulk of resources, and Illinois wouldn’t be Illinois without it.

  83. - Fan of the Game - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 2:03 pm:

    Team Sleep,

    Actually, all such carbonated beverages are Coke; you just have to tell the waitress whether you want your Coke to be a Mt. Dew or root beer or some other flavor of Coke. ;)

    BTW, I agree that “Boomtown” by Jack Schultz is an excellent insight into the success of some small towns.

  84. - PalosParkBob - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 2:13 pm:

    And don’t forget, we suburbanites see downstate and Chicago conspiring in Springfield to steal our tollways, cheat us of our fair share of school revenues from the state(generally from the disproportionately high income taxes taken from suburban incomes), not to mention making us pay for criminals in Chicago to be housed in downstate prisons.

    You mean there isn’t an unholy Downstate/Chicago alliance to shaft the ‘Burbs?

    I’ll have to bring this up at the next “vast right wing consiracy” meeting we’re having next week!

  85. - Smack-o-cratic - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 2:15 pm:

    Anon, I think your view of what Blago did or did not do, e.g.: “pat heads and tell state workers how wonderful they are” is a bit wrong-headed. He went a little but beyond that…painting state workers to be retched tax-leaches who are sucking the life blood out of state coffers… or something like that.

    Though I think your observation about Sangamonians wanting to work, live, raise families close to relatives is probably accurate. I’ll bet that holds true to a lot of folks in this world….maybe even in Chicago?

  86. - Boone Logan Square - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 2:17 pm:


    - just a thought - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 1:54 pm:

    Not at all. Once he won the primary, I’m sure the Machine got behind him. Anything to keep a republican out. From my exposure, as an employee of the House 81 - 83, one of the more sincere Reps that served.


    This might be the most hilarious thing I’ve ever read on this site. No, the machine did not get behind Harold after the primary. Or after the election — do you have any memories of the 1980s?

    The only reasons Epton got close was the weight of machine politicians turning out for him mixed with a healthy dose of racism. It almost produced a Jewish Republican mayor.

    Read a history of the election sometime. It’s the most interesting mayoral race in Chicago since Big Bill Thompson left office.

  87. - Way Northsider - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 2:49 pm:

    It seems obvious that Chicago is Chicago because people have chosen to live here. They have voted with their feet. Dissing Chicago doesn’t mean anything to the residents and seems to make many downstaters bitter so they are only hurting themselves. What’s the point? Decide where you want to live. There are pluses and minuses to both. It is utterly pointless to put down the other guy’s choice.

  88. - just a thought - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 2:53 pm:

    I stand corrected. At least on the Machine part.

  89. - Inquiring Mind - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 3:02 pm:

    My Chicago roommates at the U of I put a poster of Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” on the wall and wrote my family’s name under it. That says it all.

  90. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 3:05 pm:

    One of the side effects of an electoral system that requires presidential candidates to announce a year away from the first caucus/primary is that there’s not much to discuss except the political/historical/racial significance of where a candidate chooses to launch their campaign.

    Nationally, it’s better for Obama to be branded as a midwest. middle America candidate than a Chicago Democrat. It also gives him a chance to focus on his legislative accomplishments in Springfield.

    Yes, there will be references to Lincoln and the need to heal the divisions in our country. Probably also the courage to stand up and fight for what’s right. Possibly even two lines about how Lincoln was a man of great religious faith who balanced that against the need to maintain a separation between church and state.

    Like Lincoln, Obama was not born in Illinois, but he’s probably spent as much time in Springfield as he has in Chicago. He’s certainly spent enough time there to lay claim to it and hold his announcement there. You can bet Hillary won’t be announcing in Little Rock, Ark.

    Speaking of which, he has a new ad up on YouTbe to introduce himself to those two-thirds of Democrats who don’t know who he is yet. It’s had 50,000 hits so far and it’s pretty darn good; I think it helps folks understand why Clinton is in deep trouble. Here it is.

  91. - Objective Dem - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 3:35 pm:

    The Springfield region resents Chicago because they think Chicago wants to relocate the state capitol up here. I have heard more than one state employee say that they are 100% sure that the Governor is going to move the capitol. They then get going on him not living in Springfield and moving jobs to Chicago. Springfield talk radio and some politicians fuel this rumor.

    The flipside is I hear complaints from Chicagoans whose only experience with Springfield is being force to travel 200 miles for a routine certification or license that should be handled in Chicago.

  92. - one of the 35 - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 3:40 pm:

    First thing: you can be south of I-80 and still be in the northern part of the state. Second thing: read Carl Sandburg to see how Chicago was perceived by downstaters 75 years ago. This division is not new. Yes, Chicago gets more per capita tax dollars because they have the population based political power to secure them. Chicago is probably the best run large city in the country. The problem is that some Chicagoans think downstaters have a metaphorical hay seed sticking out of their mouth. Some downstaters think Chicagoans are drug dealing gang members. Your residency is an individual choice based upon what you enjoy in life. It is not an indication of your level of intelligence or ambition. Some folks enjoy the theatre and museums and logically locate in metropolitan areas; others enjoy peace and quiet, open space and no traffic. Your residency choices in life make you neither stupid nor a criminal.

  93. - Tom - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 3:40 pm:

    I believe George Will wrote that the northern most point of Illinois is further north than Cape Cod, MA while the southernmost point is further south than Richmond, VA. Just some perspective on the diversity of political viewpoints this creates.

    I wanted Madigan to be successful in getting Mangieri the nomination for Treasurer to create some geographical diversity. Chicago Democrats must be careful to carve the pie equitably or risk the emergence of a bipartisan coalition of exurban and downstate legislators that will oppose them.

  94. - Some Guy - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 3:50 pm:

    I remember Evan Bayh once describing Indiana as “Illinois without Chicago”

    Interesting. IIRC, the word “Hoosier” originally meant someone from the slave states who migrated into the Old Northwest Territory. Plenty of Yanks went along the Lakes to Wisconsin and Michigan. Others just moved west into Ohio. Indiana and Illinois were originally settled from the south upward, as people from the filling in areas of KY and TN went up the rivers into Ohio and then into the new area. Both IL and IN were initially Hoosier states, but the rise of Chicago caused Indiana to become THE Hoosier state.

    Race might be part of it, but it predates that. I haven’t looked this up in a long time, but from memory, in the early 20th century Chicago was THE city for “New Immigrants” of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I think one census showed about 70-80% of the city’s populace was either an immigrant or had at least one immigrant parent. Meanwhile, much of the rest of the state was old stock natives. Going to Chicago would be like going to a foreign country for some of the downstaters, especially if they wandered into an especially ethnic neighborhood.

    One thing that I don’t like is the fact that downstaters are paid less for doing the exact same work. That, to me, is no different than paying men and woman different salaries for doing the same work.

    I can see why that would annoy, but isn’t this just a cost of living issue?

  95. - vole - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 3:57 pm:

    Ask Chicago folk where they would rather recreate outside of Chicago — Illinois or Wisconsin?

    The Illinois Central and other railroad lines once united Chicago and downstate into an organic economic whole with the growth and development of each feeding on the other. Now it is like every industry and interest group out to make its way in the global empire. But Illinoisans are all still united in “Where’s Mine?”.

  96. - SAD - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 3:58 pm:

    Originally from a farm town near Springfield, school in Chicago and lived for 20 years in the w. burbs. It is a variety of factors…but a huge piece is that in many cases we are afraid of what we don’t understand (or care to understand). Some rural people are afraid of the “Big” City, and admittedly it can be awfully imposing when the tallest building you have ever seen in your life is a grain silo….or maybe a thirty story hotel in downtown Springfield. But that fear is more than just Chicago vs, downstate…people in Lincoln Park afraid to travel to the South Side (and granted, racism is a part of the answer). I may not agree with Obama, but I stongly believe in the correctness of his effort to bring together the awe inspiring and many faceted pieces of the State of Illinois by kicking things off in Springfield.

  97. - Objective Dem - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 4:06 pm:

    One of 35,

    You state “Chicago gets more per capita tax dollars because they have the population based political power to secure them.” Any evidence to back up this claim? Likewise any evidence from anyone to support this?

    I always remember Newt Gingrich claiming New York
    City was a burden on federal taxpayers. The reality was NYC paid far more than it received while Gingrich’s district was one of the largest recipients of federal funds.

  98. - God's Country - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 4:26 pm:

    Sorry, y’all lost me after chicken fried steak. mmmmmmm good. lol

    Seriously, Illinois without Chicago is Iowa. The problem is Chicago doesn’t let the rest of us forget it.

  99. - Juice - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 4:27 pm:

    Where’s Rockford?

  100. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 4:29 pm:

    GC, you should check out Blue’s Cafe. Good stuff. It’s on Station Street, not far from where my dad grew up.

    And Juice, are you Emil Jones, or just channeling him?

  101. - Jechislo - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 4:34 pm:

    Blagevich, Mike Madigan, Emil Jones. Need I say more. I am from downstate. I am not represented. I am disgusted. Barack, stay on your own turf. You’re not any more welcome here that Hot Rod.

  102. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 4:34 pm:

    BTW, just a note, Metro-Easters hardly ever even think about Chicago, let alone have something bad to say about it.

    And to One of 35, I have to agree in part with ObjectiveDem. I know that Central Illinois has more state employees per capita than Chicago or any other part of the state, especially when you include the state universities, so I highly doubt your claim that Chicago gets more tax dollars per capita.

    It reminds me of the old notion that Blue States are welfare states. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Blue states pay more in federal taxes then they get back, while red states tend to get back more than they pay.

    If Central Illinoisians are worried about their tax dollars fleeing, they should look to New Mexico, Alaska, West Virginia, Mississippi, North Dakota and Virginia, according to this 2004 report.

    Note that Illinois, New York, California, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut and Delaware — all states that Kerry won in 2004 — pay more in federal taxes than they get back from the federal government. Of the states Kerry won, only Maine, Vermont and Rhode Island got back more than they paid.

  103. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 4:39 pm:

    From what I recall about past studies, Chicago is about even when it comes to what it sends to spfld and what it gets back. The suburbs are net givers. Downstate is a net taker.

  104. - Juice - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 4:57 pm:

    Just channeling him Rich, just channeling

  105. - Papa Legba - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 5:19 pm:

    It plain to see backwardsness and ignorance are the root cause. They think Chicago is a threat to their lives if they go there. It’s too bid and scary for them. Like I would want to be in the woods around Springfield during deer season. That scares me.

    Anybody who would live in Springfield has to be backward. What a nasty little big town.

  106. - over by dere - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 6:30 pm:

    Born and raised in Chicago and the burbs, have lived downstate for many years now and seen most every corner of Illinois. Illinois has a little bit of almost everything a state could want, except for mountains. While garden of the Gods down south and the hills in Galena are pretty, we don;t really have mountians except the man-made ones of the Chicago skyline, but I could stare at that marvel for years and not tire of it.

    First of all, the majority of people claiming to be Chicagoans… aren’t. They are suburbanites who claim to be Chicagoans for the cachet of it, but aren’t willing to actually live inside the city limits, on the city’s terms, good and bad. Their vapid sprawl-dominated collections of chain restaurants and car dealerships lacks both the culture and character of the City. When they make fun of downstaters, it’s just the same as those insecure kids in junior hight that made fun of other people’s appearance to make themselves feel bigger. Pay them little mind.

    It’s the Western part of the state I feel badly for. they call themselves ‘forgottonia’, and in some ways they are right. Sparsely settled, agricultural, and without as many large, direct transportation routes, they have been forced to forge an identity distinct and apart from North AND South. Maybe that’s why they take their historic roots so seriously out that way.

    My downstate friends who talk about Chicago are intimidated by the size when contemplating a visit. I tell them it’s a city of neighborhoods, not unlike their own, and while the downtown can look a little forbidding with all the skyscrapers, the neighborhoods all have their own individual flavors and attractions, just like any small town does. When I take them there on a trip, I emphasize going to smaller “joints” with lots of local color and flavor, and pretty soon my downstater friends can say they have a favorite place to visit while “up there”.

    I initially found downstaters to be stand-offish and quiet, and much more deliberate in their speech and expression, taking their time to gather the thoughts before saying them, and taking their time to see what kind of person you are before letting you into their personal circles. They found me too fast-talking, with a tendency to over-anticipate what they were going to say. I must say they have taught me patience and pacing. What was a revelation was that they shared a lot of my traditional values and our upbringing in that regard was not so different after all.

    I was unnerved for a long time after my downstate move, to see total strangers wave at me on the corners and not be hookers or dealers(grin). It took a long time to be able to walk along a road without sidewalks and not jump everytime the wind sighed like the sound of rolling car tires on asphalt. I still think people down here walking, that don’t use the sidewalks are unsafe idiots, but now I keep it to myself.

    I am reminded of something George Ryan said at a speech one time. That it truly is one state, and that success and development in one area translates to a good for all of us everywhere, so we should not be envious of one “family” member’s success, just as we cannot ignore the troubles of any other family member. He was talking about how tax revenue from O’Hare was spent on projects statewide, but his remarks resonated in me that day.

    We’re in it together, we all have gifts to share, every spot I’ve visited in this great state has had it’s own unique delights, just like any group of people you throw together. Differences are great, the variety makes us more interesting. Celebrate the variety we have, while we recognize our connected, singular destiny.

  107. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 8:37 pm:

    What I find interesting about some of the debate here is the reference to welfare, but then the denial of racism.

    As if the people outside of Chicago do not have people on welfare.

    As if none of the people on welfare are white.

    As if drugs only exist in Chicago.

    It is interesting to see how much of a state of denial there is from the downstaters. They perceive all the problems, such as welfare, drugs and crime, to be limited to Chicago. They fail to see the meth dealers and the single mothers on welfare on their own neighborhoods. They fail to see the gangs in their own neighborhoods.

    I’ve been outside of Chicago and I’ve seen those problems. They do exist.

    For a lot of the people downstate, I suspect there is a significant racist component for the reasons stated — they have a problem with Blacks on welfare and on drugs and in gangs, but don’t notice when the white people have the same issues.

  108. - Anon - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 9:05 pm:

    I think the issue has raised the ugliest part of its head in the last 4 years or so b/c the Governor seems to have a disdain for downstate. From a Springfield perspective, the issue is that Springfield is the state capital. Period. The Governor should live here. State government should operate from here.

    This, I think, is a separate issue from the Chicago vs. Downstate issue. Generally, having grown up in a small town downstate just south of Bloomington-Normal, I think the issue is fear and misunderstanding. Having grown up in a town of 2,000 people we could not possibly understand how someone could handle living in such a large city or even want to. Quiet streets, playing outside after dark and being safe, etc. are things we value. Chicago didn’t and doesn’t fit that image to us.

  109. - anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 9:08 pm:

    Springfield isn’t an example of a progressive capital city. But I think Obama has the right idea in announcing here regardless of what the crackhead SJ-R bloggers are saying. There’s the historical significance here that he couldn’t get elsewhere.
    and, for those with short memories Governor Blagojevich wasn’t the first politico to go negative on the bureaucrats. Didn’t Speaker Madigan give the suburbanites in Chatham a fit some years back? That was hilarious. if you can’t tell–I’m waiting for Springfield and the surrounding area to come around on their politics and I don’t see a mass conversion just yet

  110. - Save a horse, Ride a Harley - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 9:30 pm:

    Well, you know if you are not from Chicago then you are a bumpkin, hick and cannot have anything going for you. This is the prevailing attitude today and was when I was at the U of I. I’d rather have St. Louis, they can win a National League pennant and a world series!

  111. - NotABlagoFan - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 9:36 pm:

    I have a question - how can he use the Old State Capitol for a political announcement? I thought there was a law prohibiting the use of sites such as the Old State Capitol for political purposes other than those related to the State?

  112. - A guy - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 9:51 pm:

    The answer is, I think he’s using the plaza outside the old capitol building, which is available to anybody that wants to use it and does the paperwork for permits. There have been many, MANY politicians that have done that there over the years. I remember being in the crowd there one evening to hear Hillary stumping for Bill. Another time, it was Dukakis there, etc. Many state buildings are available to be rented by any citizen, within rules and limits. Some of those rules have probably changed since 9-11, but you used to be able to rent out the ground floor of the State Capitol, various fairgrounds buildings, the Armory, and even part of the Dana-Thomas House, for things like wedding receptions and parties. Some of the Springfield schools used to rent out the inside of the Revenue building downtown for evening homecoming parties and proms, because it had an elegant multilevel quality with nice interior spaces… much nicer than a gymnasium. As the taxpayers, we own these places so it makes sense we should be able to use them like this, within reason. The money from the rentals helped defray some costs of upkeep or pay for a special project like repairing the heating system or whatever.

    I guess those days are mostly gone now; we easily surrendered them in the Holy Name of “Security” to over-zealous folks who were protecting us from evildoers, don’tchaknow.

  113. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:33 pm:

    I think “over by dere” has it about right. Good post!

    Like Rich, I’ve been to Blue’s cafe and the Herscher homecoming parade, and I also had to sit through a Pat Hickey lecture in HS circa 1982. So, while not in “southern Illinois,” my mom always told me not to make friends in Kankakee, we’d be back in Chicago soon enough. She considered it forced exile since my dad was transferred there.

    Since 1989, I’ve lived in Chicago, but have had the privilege of travelling with politicians through every media market in Illinois, and I’ve learned enough to know how blessed we are to have such a richly diverse state, unlike any other.

    What divides us is small, what unites us is more important. We’re lucky in Illinois.

  114. - GoIllini - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 10:52 pm:

    There are a few factors to keep in mind about the commentors to any SJ-R article. First, aside from the mayor of Springfield, most politicians in the SJ-R’s distribution area are Repubs. For that matter, Sangamon County is staunchly Republican (just look at the makeup of the county board). So, most of the population reading the SJ-R are not too keen on any Dems, including Obama. Second, the State is one of the top employers in Springfield, and regardless of your political affiliation, everyone here pretty much is sick and tired of Blago. So, that taint spreads to all aspects of the political spectrum, especially the dreaded “Chicago politician” category. I’ve lived in central Illinois all my life, went to graduate school in Carbondale, and travel to Chicago on a regular basis for work or to visit relatives. The pretty stark differences in the Chicago lifestyle versus the downstate lifestyle probably explain each side making over-generalizations of the other. (That said, almost everyone I know from out of state, usually from larger cities on the east coast, have the same impression of Chicago after visiting - “Gee, it’s like a really big small town.” It’s meant as a compliment, but underscores that Chicago is maybe not so different than downstate after all.) (Some of these points may have been made already, but I don’t have the stamina to read each posting.)

  115. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:32 pm:

    I grew up in the suburbs, worked for a while in Chicago and still visit occasionally for business and recreation, had relatives in southern IL, and settled in the fringes of exurbia. There are very few counties I haven’t been in, at least passing through.

    In my line of work, I get to mingle with everyone from central IL farmers to suburban mayors to Chicago executives. I sense a recognition by the downstaters that Chicago has earned its keep by being an economic engine for the rest of the state, a center for arts, sports and other entertainment, and a rich cultural history.

    That being said, they are troubled by the one-party rule, the collective clout of a monolithic voting bloc, the perceived and real greed, graft and corruption “endemic” to the city’s political culture, other general cultural sins, and an increasing realization the city now has control of the political levers.

    The race thing is there for some, but here’s the thing. There are increasing #’s of blacks who are finding refuge from urban ills here. And the Hispanic population of some areas, especially in southern IL, has turned local demographics inside-out. The once lily-white enclaves of downstate are getting new neighbors, and learning they are people with many of the same fears, hopes, dreams and problems that they have. So I am hopeful that the “us-vs-them” demographic attitude is fading, albeit slowly. Welfare/public aid prejudice is just as likely to be directed inward as toward Chicago; there’s plenty of Section 8 housing and food stamps here. Heck, in some SE IL counties, the % of aid recipients is double Cook County’s. and meth labs are as prevalent in the cornfields as crack houses in Chicago.

    And what’s with “south of I-80″ as a dividing line? The people of Park Forest and Kankakee are way more “Chicago” than the people of Savanna and Freeport. And the people west of IL 47 and north of 80 are heavily Scandinavian (with Rockford as Stockholm-on-the-Rock), while east of IL 47 and north of 80 is a cultural smorgasbord (with Chicago as Babylon-on-the-lake).

    Bottom line, it’s a lot more complicated than “us vs. them.”

  116. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Jan 30, 07 @ 11:53 pm:

    I didn’t realize that suburbanites paid a higher income tax rate than Chicagoans. That certainly is unfair.
    Or, perhaps you mean because of our progressive tax rate system in Illinois, upper income earners pay a higher rate than middle class. Either way, I’m really impressed with your observation.

  117. - PalosParkBob - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 8:05 am:

    Steve Schnorf:

    I didn’t say suburban rates were higher, although they may well be as a percentage of Adjusted Gross Income because of exemptions, credits, and farm income “advantages” in state tax law.

    I’m talking about per capita state income tax revenue, which I’m sure you’ll agree is the highest in the Burbs.

    We pay the most to the state and get the least return. As Rich so succinctly stated in his earlier post, we are the lone “net givers” in the state.

    The problem is that the Suburban Republican legislators are dominated by downstaters, and Suburban Dem legislators are dominated by Madigan, Jones, and the Chicago machine.

    I guess we Suburbanites deserve what we get for allowing both parties to plunder us, while electing legislators from both parties that ignore our constituent interest for their personal political and financial gain.

  118. - Common sense - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 9:05 am:

    One key difference is control. People from the Chicago area have always had their lives controlled for them (permits, fees, you name it) while the rest of the state enjoys some freedom. Chicago lawmakers feel that they need to control the rest of the state.

    Suggestion: a review of state laws often shows some exception to Cook County; why don’t we just have laws that apply in Cook County at state level and then the rest of the state (e.g., concealed carry law…valid anywhere in Illinois except within Cook County).

  119. - Country Boy - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 2:47 pm:

    I’ve lived in San Francisco, Bangkok, and NYC. I now chose to live out in the woods in deep southern Illinois (like 40 miles north of Kentucky). I’m amused that people from Chicago (the city and the ‘burbs) think of southern Illinois as south of 104th street. I travel a lot and get to Chicago a lot. I find Chicago to be like most big cities and that’s the problem. I like the quiet of having my nearest neighbor be half a mile away. I like the pure air. I like dealing with a rush minute rather than a rush hour. I feel sorry for people who can’t or don’t live this way. Having taught at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, I had students from Chicago and from Anna. Basically, there is little or no difference in intelligence and the differences in dialect are, for the most part, merely amusing. My only resentment of Chicago is that Hot Rod and the Boys make it the capitol and misuse my taxes to line their political pockets in Chicago. Let’s face it: Illinois has the most corrupt politicians in the country and the party of the politician makes no difference in the corruption. That most of this has centered itself in Chicago may be the biggest cause of the resentment of Chicago.

  120. - PalosParkBob - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 4:11 pm:

    Country Boy:

    If you think Illinois politicians are the most corrupt in the country, you’ve obviously never lived in New Orleans, especially post Katrina.

    They get away with things down there that would make a first ward alderman blush!

    DC is another venue where they had a Crack smoking mayor who governed like one, but was kept in power by corrupt racial politics.

    At least I think Richie (and most Legislators and at LEAST half the Chicago alderman)could pass drug tests, if not “ethics” tests.

  121. - From Iroquois County - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 3:03 am:

    I’m actually from Watseka, and we LOVED Chicago, generally speaking. All of our favorite sports teams, all of the good TV stations (nobody watched the junk out of Champaign), and two great airports were there, among other things.

    But yeah, as the comments indicate, we wouldn’t trust a Chicago politician with the Ferris Wheel at the County Fair, much less our Country. We DO get Chicago news down there, so we’re constantly reminded of how corrupt Chicago politics is. Whether it pertains to Obama specifically or not, it still taints the image of any Chicago politician. And Blagojevich storming downstate and extorting cash from small towns like Watseka didn’t help our view of that.

    Beyond that, though, Obama’s political views are SO different from those of rural Illinois, and I would be quite opposed to him using Watseka as a backdrop for his bid, simply because I’d know he would have no intention of appeasing any of our interests. He’d just be using our town as a way to appeal to Middle America broadly, both the conservative and the liberal parts. And after he left, he’d never think of us again.

  122. - Skeeter - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 5:49 am:

    - From Iroquois County - Thursday, Feb 1, 07 @ 3:03 am:

    I’m actually from Watseka, and we LOVED Chicago, generally speaking.

    What irony.
    Do you have any idea as to the seriousness of the drug problems in Watseka? I will take most of Chicago over Wateska any day.

    If those people are mainstream Illinois, I want none of it. Most of the people have no idea what’s going on in their own neighhborhood, so I sure wouldn’t trust most of them to run the state.

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