|The Economist’s special report on the Midwest reveals that agricultural machinery from our state is prized by dealers in second-hand equipment because Illinois farmers are known for taking good care of their tractors.|
Chicago is distinguished by the critics who’ve taken a swing at her. From 19th century Brit wits like Oscar Wilde (who famously dismissed the Water Tower as “a castellated monstrosity”) to mid-20th century slams like A.J. Liebling’s 1952 vivisection, to our current president regularly slurring Chicago as a violent hellhole, the city has absorbed more than its share of body blows.
So when The Economist, the top news magazine in Britain if not the world, let fly on Thursday with an 11-page report on the Midwest, ominously titled “An outsized punch,” I tucked into a defensive crouch and began reading.
Whew. A rare bit of good news. Instead of being delivered to our midsection, the aforementioned “punch” refers to the region’s international clout.
Chicago may not be the global city of our dreams. But we’re part of a dozen-state cluster that can go toe-to-toe with any region in the world.
The 12 Midwestern states (and a chunk of Pennsylvania around Pittsburgh and a scoop around Louisville, Kentucky) would, were it a nation, be the world’s fourth-largest economy, with a gross product of $4 trillion, tying Germany. Its population of 68 million is equal to Britain’s.
We’re a powerhouse in American politics. True, we used that power in 2016 to deliver the nation to Trump — nothing to be proud of. But we can also decide whether that historic disaster will be corrected or compounded this November.
We are “Midwestern nice,” apparently, with “warmth, hospitality, work ethic and fondness for the outdoors.”
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