Thanks to a hefty amount of attention paid to it by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, the plight of government officials in Benton Harbor, Michigan (the poorest town in the state) is becoming a bigger and bigger story.
In a nutshell, the city's elected officials have been stripped of their powers by a state-appointed "Emergency Financial Manager," by the name of Joseph Harris. In response, the city commission has defied Harris and passed a resolution declaring his appointment unconstitutional.
So why is this local story suddenly national news? Is it because what's happening in Benton Harbor sets a disturbing precedent for the rights of city governments to manage themselves, and in turn, for the wishes of their constituents to be honored? Or, does Stephen Colbert have the real take:
Benton Harbor's elected officials are incompetent, therefore, by electing them, the voters are incompetent. So they should lose their democracy.
The measure is an attempt to cut costs in the most debt-stricken areas of the state, but some of Harris' ideas, such as combining police and fire departments, have left officials and constituents alike crying foul. But, again, Colbert has a decidedly different opinion:
Everybody knows the cheapest way to get a cat out of tree is to just shoot it down.
Colbert devoted Tuesday's "The Word" segment to the story and took it as an opportunity to discuss the necessary limits of democracy. Spoiler alert: it's fine for choosing M&M colors.