Considered a microcosm of the nation, the state of Illinois stretches almost four hundred miles from its northern limit at the Wisconsin line to its southern tip at Cairo, nestled between Kentucky and Missouri. Its political culture is as intriguing as the state is long._x000B__x000B_Illinois has produced presidents and leading members of Congress. It also has a long history of political corruption, including, in recent years, the federal indictments of two consecutive governors. The population of the state is exceptionally diverse, with a significant number of new immigrants. Its political allegiance, once firmly Republican, has trended ever more Democratic. Illinois can be divided neatly into three distinct regions: Chicago, the suburban collar surrounding the city, and the ninety-five downstate counties._x000B__x000B_Based on the research and experience of respected veterans of Illinois politics, this book shows how the government runs, how politics operates, and what obstacles and opportunities exist for change. It explains how power is exercised and how parties compete for it. For engaged citizens, scholars, and students, Illinois Politics: A Citizen's Guide is a timely and much-needed roadmap for positive change. _x000B__x000B_Illinois Politics: A Citizen's Guide sheds light on these important questions and more: _x000B__x000B_Why has corruption flourished in Illinois even as reformers struggle for ethical change? _x000B_How do the three regions of the state compete for resources? _x000B_How does the legislature work?_x000B_When did the state become so blue?_x000B_What powers do the governor and other elected officials really have? _x000B_How are judges appointed to and removed from the bench? _x000B_Why does Illinois have more units of government than any other state? _x000B_How did higher education lose ground as a funding priority? _x000B_What role did politics play in the current budget deficit? _x000B_And how can Illinois move beyond its status as the "most average state in the nation"?