Write Team: Dear Not-Chicago, Illinois: Chicago is not going to leave you

As a native of the giant metropolis of North Utica, I am accustomed to being inundated with the “post-Burgoo” comments that range from shock at how popular the once relatively obscure event has become to the panning of our Chicagoan visitors as invaders. However, these types of statements are only overshadowed by the king of hyperbolic-angry-rural-Illinoisan comments; and, to that I say what I usually do, “no, Chicago cannot be its own state, and even if it could, it wouldn’t solve any problems.”

The number of times I have found it necessary to utter that sentence to friends, members of my own family and the average Illinoisan is asinine.

Beyond the fact that Washington, D.C., the seat of our national government, and Puerto Rico, an entire island consisting of more than 3 million people, cannot seem to achieve statehood, there are a litany of reasons as to why my answer remains ardent. Often, this response comes on the coattails of the idea that goes something like this: 1) Chicago imposes its political ideology on the rest of the state who must pick up the bill for the sins of the Windy City, and 2) that shoving Chicago into Lake Michigan would solve the litany of problems Illinois faces.

I understand the idea of making Chicago its own state is usually hyperbole (although sometimes I have received quite passionate and seemingly serious assertions) and it is fueled by a feeling the only way to create substantial change in Illinois is getting rid of Chicago. However, as much as this issue may be panned as partisan, good people make change – regardless of party. This is especially true in a representative democracy, which requires constituents ensure they make informed choices to help foster a better community. That does not mean this is easy — there is no Amazon Prime Two-Day democracy.

If you do believe the problems facing this state are of a partisan nature, by the sheer numbers, there still would not be a substantial change to the political makeup of neither chambers of the Illinois General Assembly.

Many people have stated that life in Illinois has reached the zenith of unbearable – the taxes, the regulations, the politics, the corruption – yet a relative few actually have taken the steps to depart. Data provided by the recent census show a little less than 20,000 people left the state, a number less than predicted. Whether a larger exodus was prevented by economic instability or barriers created by the pandemic, the numbers show the majority of people claiming the secret to happiness lies outside the borders of Illinois have not embraced the conviction of their beliefs.

So here we are, a state facing significant economic and political hurdles. Stuck in an apparent never-ending loop of financial insanity, empty promises, and over restrictions leading to an apparent lack of continuity in both the enactment and enforcement of law – often seemingly overburdening the few for the many.

So, what can we do moving forward? Well, I do believe that there are two points to remain hopeful about.

First, Illinois statistically is not the most corrupt state – that is and forever will be New Jersey. Second, Illinois has produced some of the most powerful leaders in the history of our nation: Lincoln, Grant, Reagan and Betty White. Betty White aside, as dynamite as she is, I believe Illinois has always produced the ingredients for change, now, it is up to us to use these ingredients in a recipe to change Illinois for the betterment of the whole state.

• Zack Krizel, originally from Utica, now lives in Washington, D.C., while completing law school with an interest in practicing constitutional law. He can be reached at dbarichello@shawmedia.com.