Cook County would be better off on its own

By Samuel Charles

Last week, a proposal was made in the Illinois state legislature that asked for the separation of Cook County from the rest of the state.

I’m serious.

As much as I’d like to burn every bridge between Cook County and the rest of the yokels who call Illinois home, this bill will, sadly, never pass. But let’s pretend for a minute it actually has a chance.

In a few ways, this idea makes some sense. I mean, think about it: Cook County sets the agenda for the rest of the state. Regardless of whether or not the decisions the county makes on behalf of the rest of the state are good, it’s not fair to everybody else.

The good ol’ boys down in Carbondale and Mt. Vernon don’t have the same mentality or general view on life as the majority of the residents of Cook County. That’s just the story of the state.

Take a drive through Illinois from Chicago to Metropolis and ask yourself if it feels likes you’re on the same planet, let alone in the same state.

Those amber waves of grain from Kankakee to Cairo are all too representative of the state’s political makeup. The amount of corn present in a county seems to be directly proportional to the amount of conservative Republicans who live in that county.

In all reality, without the liberal-leaning population of Cook County, Bill Brady would be governor, civil unions would be non-starters and the death penalty would still be in place.

It’s not as though Cook County residents are exactly proud of the fellow Illinoisans to the south, either. For as long as I can remember, I’ve questioned why Chicago isn’t the capital of the state. But if it was, would anyone have any reason to travel south of I-80?

But let’s say—by some act of a higher power—that this cockamamie bill passes. What is the name of the new state in which Chicago resides? Maybe just call the state as a whole “Chicago?” But that sounds like a cop-out.

Maybe Cook County can keep the “Illinois” label and the rest of the people who populate the new state can be called “Illinoise.” That sounds fair.

If Cook County is being pushed out the door by some hayseed state representative from Decatur, residents should at least be given the courtesy of a good name for their new mini-state. And, to be fair, without Chicago, the rest of Illinois is about as economically stimulating as Michigan.

As of the 2010 Census, there were approximately 12.8 million people in Illinois. More than 5 million of those people live in Cook County. Almost half the population lives on less than 3 percent of the state’s land. Illinois also has 19 representatives in the United States House of Representatives. Of those 19, 11 of them represent areas that are a part of, or completely within, Cook County.

From what it sounds like, Cook County would get along just fine without the rest of the state.

The sponsors of the bill argue that the voice of the rest of the state is drowned out by the will of the voters in Cook County, and they’re right.

But that doesn’t mean Cook County is wrong on those issues. Let’s not forget, Bill Brady is, for lack of a better term, clinically insane. Without Cook County, he’d be running this state further into the ground.

Cook County saved Illinois from itself.

The state of Cook, if enacted, would then be the second smallest state—it’d still be approximately 400 square miles larger than Rhode Island—with the third largest city in the country.

Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?

Say hello to Gov. Toni Preckwinkle.