Moral Panic

Vampire Congressman! Coming Soon to Showtime!


I don't object to the LARPing, but that wifebeater has to go.

Republican Jake Rush stands for typical conservative causes like reducing government spending, securing the borders, maintaining a strong foreign policy, opposing abortion, and supporting gun rights. He's offering up a primary challenge to Republican Ted Yoho in Florida's 3rd District. Though Rush's site and campaign advertisement don't say exactly why he has a problem with Yoho's performance, Yoho is part of the libertarian-leaning Republicans endorsed by Ron Paul prior to his upset victory in 2012. He has joined up with other recognizable libertarian-leaning Republican representatives like Justin Amash (Mich.) and Thomas Massie (Ky.) to oppose military action in Syria and Egypt. Rush's site warns against American "isolationism" and calls for a "proactive foreign policy."

Rush also says on his site, "We should be focused like a rifle, not on sideshow issues," so of course it turns out Rush plays role-playing game where he pretends to be a vampire and of course that all comes out now. Jake Rush has an alter ego named Chazz Darling, and he's a member of the Mind's Eye Society, a group that hosts Live Action Role-Playing (LARP—one of the most fun acronyms to say in the world) sessions based on the modern fantasy gothic settings of role-playing game company White Wolf. Popular around the time novelist Anne Rice was popular in the 1990s—and for similar reasons—White Wolf published role-playing game guidelines for bringing horror characters like vampires, werewolves, and ghosts into modern settings. (Full disclosure: I did back in the '90s play Vampire: The Masquerade for about a year, but did not engage in any LARPing.)

Rush's hobby was revealed on SaintPetersBlog, where his behavior is described as a "bizarre double life" and Peter Schorsch's reporting of Rush's gaming reads like the role-playing gaming panics of the 1980s, where misguided adults thought teens were actually trying to cast magic spells from Dungeons and Dragons in the basements and dens of their family's suburban homes. Here's a sample of Schorsch describing Rush's role-playing:

Chazz Darling appears to be one of Rush's favorite personas. As Darling, Rush published regularly in both the Camarilla Wiki Project, a wide range of message boards and sites connected with White Wolf Publishing, the company which created the first Vampire: The Masquerade role-playing game in 1991.

Rush is certainly living a double life, one that would rival Jekyll and Hyde—except it is all too real.  

As a Gainesville native with a degree from the University of Florida and a 2007 graduate of Stetson Law School, Rush—at the same period as his life in Camarilla—served in the Florida Bar as the Young Lawyer's Division Board of Governors representative for the Eighth Judicial Circuit.

It is not "all too real." It is a game. In retrospect, it's funny how panics about role-playing gamers turned out to be a lot of projection. It turned out that the people who attack gamers are often the ones who were often unable to determine the difference between reality and fantasy. Kids playing Dungeons and Dragons probably never thought the spells were real (if only!) but certainly religious objectors to the game did and thought they were tools of Satan.

Rush's hobby got picked up and reported by a number of sites. Rush subsequently sent out a statement defending his activities, describing and owning his background in gaming and theater:

As a practicing Christian, I am deeply offended that the opposing campaign and their supporters would take a gaming and theatre hobby and mischaracterize it. The very definition of acting is expressing ideas and thoughts that are not your own, just like I don't believe I am MacBeth, which I have played, I am none of the characters….

Bottom line—There is nothing wrong with being a gamer. It's kinda nerdy, but North Central Florida deserves a legitimate debate on the issues instead of Ted Yoho's usual sideshow distractions.

He also included a totally awesome picture of himself dressed up as The Flash from D.C. Comics and his wife as Phoenix from Marvel's X-Men.

It was like "Firefly" for Goths.
Kindred: The Embraced

Libertarians may disagree with Rush's foreign policy views, but good for him for not being embarrassed by a hobby enjoyed (though perhaps not as intensely) by millions of Americans. This allegedly strange, mysterious game Rush participates in had enough of a following to inspire a television series back in 1996 called Kindred: The Embraced, though it didn't have quite enough of a following to last even a whole season. Given the current popularity of Twilight, True Blood, and The Vampire Diaries, it's really silly for the media to be playing dumb about all this.

In the event Rush actually makes it to Congress, he won't be the only gamer there. Our upcoming June issue of Reason focuses on the "Rise of the Gamer." Though the issue is focused mostly on video games, certainly the connection between table-top gaming and video gaming is strong (there have also been video games based on this same vampire setting). We have an interview with libertarian-leaning Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who talks about his background as a gamer, and how he ultimately used it to help fight against some bad copyright enforcement legislation. It doesn't appear that Rush and Polis will see eye-to-eye on many issues (if any), but maybe they'd be able to hammer things out with a few dice rolls or a game of Civilization.

Given the connection between Gen Xers (at 35, Rush is at the younger end of the generation) and games, we are likely to see more guys like Rush and Polis in the halls of political power. Rush may or may not have a chance against Yoho, but someday—maybe soon—Americans will be voting an imaginary vampire into federal office. This is assuming they haven't already.

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  1. You can’t fool me, this is just Sugarfree bait.

    1. I was thinking that even this is too weird for H&R.

      Then you mentioned SF and I thought “well, probably not”

  2. I have no interest in partying with that guy.

  3. Interesting. I had never heard of Kindred: The Embraced, but – surprise, motherfucker! – Erik King (Sgt. Doakes from Dexter) was on it.

  4. Why did you post a high school picture of Dave Weigel?

  5. Fantasy football/baseball/etc is an RPG, in which you pretend to be a General Manager.

    1. And Skyrim is a RPG, where you pretend to be a fictional race and character type and resolve an ethnic civil war in a fictional world.

      Its not the RP portion that is the issue, its the its the LA. Few care about role playing games, its an escape from the mundane. But the live action part, where you actually dress up as and assume the identity of a character is a different shade, something bouncing away from gamer towards child-like pretender.

      That said, I couldn’t care less. All that matters to me is a person’s policy agenda matching mine. Doesn’t matter to me if you’re a LARPer, a civil war re-enactor, or an amateur clown. Its the ideas that you seek to enact that provide the basis of my judgement of fitness for public office.

      1. But isnt Fantasy Football, for example, also live action?

        You meet in a draft room, just like the NFL does (if without the JETS fans) and you call on the phone to make trades.

        Like with LARP, its not exactly like reality, but duh.

        1. You make staffing/drafting decisions, but to consider it LARPing would be to consider SimCity as govt LARPing. Its just a game. As a fantasy football league participant, you don’t actually assume a fictional identity and present yourself to others in the league as a name other than your own.

      2. He characterized it as a “gaming and theatre hobby”, which sounds right to me. All these add-on, personalization packages games are selling begin to look like a bit like LARPing, in that you’re investing your personality into the game character.

        For me, it starts to look strange when people imagine themselves to actually be the character. Of course, it’s pretty hard to tell the difference between LARPing and second life fantasy, so maybe that’s an impossible distinction.

    2. Or you can just do the LARP–I think they call it ‘playing football’.

  6. I’m trying to find something to provide a pithy comment about. I’ve got nothing.

  7. Given the connection between Gen Xers (at 35, Rush is at the younger end of the generation) and games, we are likely to see more guys like Rush and Polis in the halls of political power.

    We may see more guys like Frank Underwood, who after a long day of fucking people over with stupid legislation, go about killing people in CoD:MW online (the least fucked up thing they do all day). But I doubt we’ll be seeing a rise in LARPers in the halls of Congress. Winning elected office is like a popularity contest. I don’t think LARPers are frequently known for popularity.

  8. I tried to go to the bar to get dinner with a friend of mine last week, but we couldn’t get in. We walked up to the door, but it was blocked by king and his new queen, maids passing out drinks, jesters entertaining everyone, and twin female elves playing two different harps. That last part was why I really wanted to try and get it. Maybe next time there is a LARP wedding reception going on I’ll do better to get advanced notice.

    1. We ended up going down the street to another bar, but it was crowded because of the LARP event. Chicago is a strange city.

  9. I have no problem with the guy’s gaming but I do with his words. Focused like a rifle? Rifles don’t focus. His sentence construction is terrible even by my standards.

    He is an idiot.

    1. “his words were dialed-in like a razor blade, shattering misconceptions into mush”

      1. “The silence fell with a crack when his words bathed the minds of his enemies with a diamond crust of truth.”

        1. “Death crawled swiftly into the waiting arms of its nemesis, apathy, while fearing the inevitability of its apotheosis.”

    2. He is clearly not the sharpest bulb in the deck.

  10. Forget it, Jake. It’s Florida.

  11. And one other thing. Unless you have been overseas and are a combat vet, shut your fucking mouth about sending other people to do it.

    1. So if we were invaded and had a non-combat-vet POTUS, you’d not want him to send troops into combat.

      That’s dumb.

      1. Well, sure, you being a general and all…

        *tries to keep straight face*

    2. I’m too old, to enlist, so I guess my opinion doesn’t count?

      What about my college room mate who served in the Navy but during a quiet period and never saw action? Fuck him and his service too?

      Sorry pal.

    3. I have been overseas and I am a combat vet… and that is silly. Anyone can have an opinion and express it. Just make your argument logical, rational and try to include facts/examples, etc.

      That reminds me of the old leftie “chickenhawk” bit.

  12. And just because,

    1. And, of course, it happens to be a 4/1 Carp Trek episode right now. Sigh.

      Here is a better link:

      1. “….Trek noir?”

        This is great.

        1. Larptrek is one of the greatest things in the history of humanity.

          But I may be overselling it a bit.

          1. Actually, not at all. This is the perfect excuse to not get real work done for the next half our or so. My boss is a Trekkie, so if he asks what I’m laughing at I’ll just send him the link. BRILLIANT.

        2. The Riker/Troi expressions in episode 4 may still be my favorite thing in the entire series.

  13. How much tax money is he planning on shoving into his Bag of Holding?

  14. I admit that I don’t think that I could vote for a LARPer. Even libertines have some standards.

  15. I for one believe ALL Politicians must join the Society for Creative Anachronism, create avatars, and battle to the “ouch! stop!” every day on the floor of congress.

    LIKE SO!

    because people don’t take politicians *seriously* anymore. Anything is a step up.

    (*Paid for by The Campaign for HJALMAR THE BLOOD-DRINKER 2014)

    1. battle to the “ouch! stop!”

      not exactly

      1. Do you have to stay in character and go, “Ach! Mine ventricles hath been pierced twain! I expire! blargh!”

  16. This is nothing. In 10 years politicians will have to justify every dumbass picture they’ve ever been tagged in on facebook.

  17. Obama has been LARPing being President, as did the last asshole, so I don’t have a problem with this.

  18. As someone who not only played White Wolf games (Mage: the Ascension was my favorite) but actively participated in their development (if you lost anyone in in the destruction Horizon and Doissetep: sorry, my bad), let me say that Vampire LARPers are in fact the scum of the Earth and should not be trusted to prepare your macchiato, much less run your government.

    We’re talking about people who make decisions based on tossed coins and roshambo! Normal people roll ten-sided dice.

    1. This reminds me of how Party Clowns hate on Mimes, and vice versa.

      (*shakes the clown is a great movie, btw)

    2. As someone who not only played White Wolf games (Mage: the Ascension was my favorite) but actively participated in their development

      I call shenanigans! Mark Rein “Dot” Hagen would never allow a libertarian to enter into his personal space and live to tell the tale.

  19. Role-playing is bad; I know because Jack Chick told me so. Seriously, I wouldn’t vote for Rush because he sounds like the typical Team-Red-bot who is for smaller government except on most things.

  20. I agree with the “not caring what you do in your personal time as long as you don’t try to fuck me over” attitude towards political wannabes and don’t know enough about Yoho to defend him, but what does this have to do with Yoho’s campaign? It seems to me that when Rush says things like, ” I am deeply offended that the opposing campaign and their supporters would take a gaming and theatre hobby and mischaracterize it…It’s kinda nerdy, but North Central Florida deserves a legitimate debate on the issues instead of Ted Yoho’s usual sideshow distractions,” he’s just trying to distract from this and smear his opponent. Nerd.

    1. “It’s kinda nerdy, but North Central Florida deserves

      …to be the first Earth-territory to be laid waste by Cthulu

      1. No wait just one minute! How is HE going to get from the South Seas to Florida without laying waste to someplace along the way?!! Is he going to Cthulu-copter there???

        1. Bah, Cthulu cares nothing for your puny human Euclidian geography. If he wishes to come ashore in Iowa, it shall be done, and millions we perish gibbering at the madness that is the coast of Des Moines.

  21. At least he’s not a Furry.

    1. You don’t know that.

  22. Student Government: The most dangerous LARP of all.

  23. We already elect a striking number of sociopaths who walk around every day pretending to have empathy. Playing the role of a normal human being, as it were. I’m having a hard time finding my give-a-shit.

  24. Wouldn’t this, with the addition of the opponent also LARPing, make for a much better film than, say, The Campaign?

    Not that I’ve set the bar high, or anything, but it could be HI-larious.

  25. “As a practicing Christian….” – irrelevant hand-waving to evoke mindless sympathy from a certain sect of superstitious cultists.

    “It’s kinda nerdy….” – he can do his gaming to his heart’s content, but the use of the word kinda here is the type of oleaginous ingratiation that should warn us that this glad-handing pol could say anything to get elected.

  26. Here I thought you folks were signing me up to go to congress. Phew. However we do need a bunch of (libertarian) vampire congress folk. The ladies can seduce all the other douche sheisser heads that hate liberty, then we’ll take over, disband the criminal organization and tell all the politicians to go home.

  27. “Kids playing Dungeons and Dragons probably never thought the spells were real”

    Why, then are 9 out 10 Wiccans D&D(or Everquest, WOW etc) fanatics?

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