But the current us versus them drive to “divorce” Chicago from the rest of Illinois, while it shares elements with earlier efforts, comes in an era of heightened political conversation in America. More importantly, it’s a direct outgrowth of the stubborn urban-rural divide that underlies many of today’s most divisive social and economic issues. “It’s really important to note that this has nothing to do with Democrat or Republican,” says Merritt. “It has to do with urban, rural and suburban. The economies and cultures and needs and interests of non-urban areas are different from those of a big city like Chicago. The problem is, in our state government we have a one-size-fits-all approach and things are foisted on the other parts of the state.”
Nationwide, the urban-rural conflict percolated into prominence in the 2016 election, and has continued to boil over. The New Illinoisans have company in the state separation business: both New York and California are currently facing their own state split movements.