NEO-SEATTLE—Decrying the lack of decorum on display, an American from decades in the future remarked that politics was never this toxic “back in the 2010s,” shaking his head as he watched the leading presidential candidates of 2048 fight to the death in blood-soaked debate pits.
A 55-year-old registered voter from the mid-21st century, Luke Jacobs cast his first ballots for president as a young man in 2012 and 2016 and he acknowledged that crude rhetoric and appeals to fear were rampant in those election seasons. But he said it was nothing compared to what he was now witnessing during a 2048 debate broadcast from the 130,000-square-foot stadium where leading candidates from both parties engaged in a vicious, no-holds-barred battle for the White House, mercilessly tearing each other limb from limb with clubs, chains, and knives.
“The debates were hardly perfect when I was young—there was some name-calling and question-dodging—but the dialogue was a lot more civil than it is now,” said Jacobs as armor-clad Democrats and Republicans entered the pits for the first 2048 debate, which was being held before an audience that sat behind an electrified fence, chanted the candidates’ names, and urged them to slam each other into the sharpened steel spikes that line the arena’s walls. “Back then, it was still a war of words. They didn’t cut out someone’s tongue to keep them from speaking entirely. And no one delivered their opening remarks while holding aloft the severed head of a rival, later crushing it with their bare hands while emphasizing a particular point.”
“This really makes me miss the 2010s,” Jacobs continued. “The first round in the Healthcare Battles is almost over, and Democrats have spent the entire time pandering to their base by disemboweling their adversaries and throwing handfuls of still-warm viscera into the cheering crowd.”
According to reports from the future, Jacobs spent much of the debate explaining to his children that when he was young, the presidential debates had far more substance, and while a candidate in those days might use a two-minute time slot to tear into an opponent verbally, they would never do so physically with a meat cleaver. He added that American political discourse has eroded over the years, making it acceptable for a modern candidate like SkullCrusher (R-OR) to use his 30-second rebuttal on school funding to cut his challenger in half with a chainsaw and toss the dead body onto a pile of skeletons belonging to vanquished candidates from four years earlier.
Jacobs reportedly believes much of the fault lies with the moderators, who in the past managed to ask pointed questions of candidates like Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, but are now unable to maintain order when Republican frontrunner Eagle’s Wrath and his running mate George Z. Bush impale four of their opponents at once on a flagpole they sharpened to a deadly point. However, he also blamed the questionable tactics of 2048’s White House hopefuls, citing the case of a Green Party candidate who, after being denied an invitation to the debates, charged into the pits and blew himself up with a makeshift pipe bomb.
“In the 2010s, it was considered off-limits to drag an opponent’s children into the debate,” said Jacobs, watching as a 2048 candidate literally dragged an opponent’s teenage son into the debate pits and burned him alive with a flamethrower. “Now, they’ll do anything to throw a rival off his game. Sure, in the 2016 town hall debate you had Donald Trump trying to intimidate Hillary Clinton by lurking behind her as she spoke, but he certainly didn’t sneak up on her and bury an ice pick in the back of her skull. At that time, there were certain ethical lines you just didn’t cross.”
Though he admitted the 2012 and 2016 debates often left him feeling exhausted by the end, Jacobs stressed that they never made him as despondent as he felt at the close of the 2048 debate, when the one remaining Democratic challenger beheaded the Republican incumbent, expertly carved his face off, pulled the bloodied mask of skin and hair over his own head, and shouted that he was now “the one true god-king of the White House.”
“You know, even after the most heated, bitter debates of 2016, Trump and Clinton would still shake hands and exchange a few kind words at the end—they had that much decency, you know?” Jacobs said as paramedics finally entered the debate pit to check for signs of life among the towering mounds of human bodies. “But now, you stick out your hand and your opponent immediately rips off your arm and bludgeons you to death with it, right there on the spot. And then they unbuckle their pants and piss on your dead body. There’s absolutely zero dignity.”
“I don’t know how I’m supposed to use debates like this to decide who to vote for,” Jacobs added. “I guess I’ll just pick whoever’s still alive.”