A Tale of Two Illinois Counties

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryJust as I am about to cross the border from one county into the other, I see on one side of the county line an American flag flying and just below it a banner that reads, “Don’t blame me, I voted for Trump.” In so many ways, the two counties I cross from one to the other almost everyday is in so many ways a tale of the bitter political divisions in Illinois and the United States as a whole. I will not name the two Illinois counties in question, except to say that one is largely Democrat and the other is solidly Republican. It is not just a division on a map, but one where the residents in each live in two different worlds.

In the solidly Republican county, I learned that a person should never call themselves a “Democrat” with a capital “D.” This would be siding with the “enemy” and you could get more than cold frosty stares. In the largely Democrat county, the word “Republican” with a capital “R” is considered a dirty word, and the residents in this county for the most part ignore the people in the other county. How they behave in terms of the Illinois governor’s mandate of wearing masks indoors is equally telling. In the Democrat county, the majority of people wear face masks. In the other county, almost no one wears face masks. As far as those in the Republican county are concerned, they have no desire to listen to a Democrat governor, and this is their way of disobeying his executive order.

The symbolism between the two counties is equally telling. Both counties are adamant about flying the American flag to show their patriotism. This where the similarity ends. In the Republican county, one easily comes across Blue Lives Matter flags, flags used by right wing groups, sometimes Confederate flags (for their heritage I guess), and pro-Trump flags. Sometimes, some of the residents flay the flags of Sweden and Denmark to show their heritage. In the Democrat county, one can easily find Mexican flags, Puerto Rican flags, and sometimes flags of the Democratic Socialists of America (note: there are many Americans of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent there). Like the Republican county, many families in the Democrat county fly American military flags of the U.S. armed forces. The Republican county has very small towns with maybe at most 1,000 people living in them, and everyone else scattered throughout the vast rural Illinois countryside. The Democrat county has at least two large towns with at least 15,000 people living in each of them. The political divisions between the two counties is a warning sign of a house divided that is America today. And I am wondering can a house so divided still stand?

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