The Dangling Man
A man, Amerigo by name, is standing on the edge of a cliff, enjoying the view. Without warning, the ground under his feet gives way. As the man falls, he manages to grab a now-exposed root and finds himself dangling high above an abyss. He tries to pull himself up but, for various reasons, he can’t get a foothold. He begins to call out for help.
A Republican shows up and eventually understands the situation.
“Use your bootstraps,” the Republican shouts to The Dangling Man…
Then, he leaves.
A Democrat happens on the scene. He hears the cries for help and investigates, finding The Dangling Man clinging desperately to the root.
“Hang on,” the Democrat says. “I’ve got a rope.”
The Dangling Man feels a rush of relief, hopeful the Democrat will save him. “Hurry, please!” replies The Dangling Man. “I don’t know how much longer I can hold on…”
Using incremental, baby steps, the Democrat goes to his car, carefully selects a rope, and ties it off safely. Then he begins to unwind the rope, one coil at a time.
“Please…hurry!” The Dangling Man calls. “My fingers are numb and I’m slipping…”
“I’m moving as quickly as prudence dictates,” replies the Democrat. “If I don’t do this carefully, incrementally, unforeseen problems might arise. What if my rope gets a kink in it or something?”
The Dangling Man realizes he won’t be able to survive at this rate. The Democrat is simply moving too slowly. The Dangling Man once again calls out for help.
A Progressive shows up. It takes only a split-second for the Progressive to summarize the situation. He runs to the edge of the cliff and, securing himself against a tree, reaches his hand down to The Dangling Man.
“Take my hand,” the Progressive says. “I’ll get you out of this mess…”
“Thank God you’re here,” The Dangling Man says. “That guy said he would help but he’s taking so long…I was sure I was going to die…”
The Democrat sees the Progressive reaching down toward the man and knows exactly what he has to do. In a blur of motion, the Democrat drops the rope and runs to where the Progressive is – and pushes him off the cliff and into the abyss.
“What are you doing?” The Dangling Man demands. “He was trying to help me!”
“Oh, sure,” the Democrat says, “he said he wanted to help but he didn’t even have a plan.”
“He HAD a plan,” the Dangling Man shouts. “He was just going to pull me up!”
“That wasn’t a plan, that was just a reaction,” replied the Democrat. “He could never have pulled it off.”
“He could have with your help! Why did you push him off the cliff?”
“I’ve already told you,” the Democrat scolds. “If we don’t do this incrementally, in baby steps, something might go wrong.”
“I can’t wait any longer!” The Dangling Man declares. “I need help right now!”
“Purist!” the Democrat scoffs, walking back to his rope. “I told you I was bringing help…”
When, finally, he got his rope to the edge, no one was there. The Dangling Man was gone.
To this day, the Democrat doesn’t understand what happened…