Jake Rush: Politician, Defender of LARPers

Congressional hopeful Jake Rush of Florida (3rd Congressional District) is catching a lot of flack for being a  Vampire LARPer.

The SaintPetersBlog refers to this as part of his “bizarre double life.” The unintentionally-hilarious article refers to the Mind’s Eye Society like it is some kind of cult. You can almost hear dramatic background music with such paragraphs as

MES, extremely trademarked and organized, is by no means a trivial enterprise. It is a highly regimented association of like-minded people, complete with its own rituals and performances.

Rituals! Performances! And it is EXTREMELY trademarked! (That’s like regular trademarking, but EXTREME!

The Miami New Times reads less like a parody, and attempts to explain what this LARPing is:

Apparently, Rush has been active in an intricate vampire-themed role-playing game called Mind’s Eye Theater. There’s really no way to explain this game in non-geeky terms, but we’ll try our best. The game is based on Vampire: The Masquerade, a traditional table-top role-playing game created by White Wolf Studios. Mind’s Eye participants have taken this one step further by dressing as their characters and playing a live-action version of the game. They also have a version of the game they play online. Basically, they adopt fantasy characters and pretend to go on quests and whatnot together, and their interactions are governed by a loose set of rules. The website also says they do stuff for charity. So geek stuff for a good cause?

They then go on to represent (pretty fairly, I think) some very politically-incorrect postings that Rush made in-character … things that it’s fair to ask a candidate to distinguish between what are his attitudes vs. the attitudes of his characters (and he clearly played some of the badder baddies in Vampire). I do wonder, though, if Arnold Swarzenegger was ever asked to explain what he thinks is best in life:


For national news outlets, the “crazy local candidate” story isn’t enough, so we go on a journey to find a broader hook. Slate ends their article with the laughable implication that somehow the Tea Party is a cabal of secret rape-fantasy fetishists infiltrating the Republican party to … well, do something dark. And somehow this ties into opposing Obamacare because … people who are cosplayers and LARPers are evil right-wing rapist cokeheads? Or something else Jack Chick might have dreamed up?

Vanity Fair got in on the fun, playfully referring to the “soulless lifestyle” of Rush and members of Congress, but their article clearly refers to LARPs as “games” and the image they include is far less provocative, an image of Rush cosplaying Flash.

To be fair to SaintPetersBlog, they did run Rush’s unedited press release on the matter. No matter one’s politics (and anecdotally, I suspect most LARPers are left-of-center), you’ve got to admire the way that even while he treats it as a distraction from the issues, Rush offers a defense of LARPing and other similar hobbies:

[Y]es, I play and have played video games, role playing games, board games, Yahtzee, Clue, and I have acted in dozens of theatre productions [….] I have never hid nor shied away from disclosing my hobby activities [….] I am deeply offended that the opposing campaign and their supporters would take a gaming and theatre hobby and mischaracterize it [….] 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.

So, if you agree with Rush’s politics, vote for him. And if you don’t, invite this guy to play with your LARPing guild. Jake Rush, you have a standing invitation to my tabletop RPG night … but don’t forget to bring your own dice. I’m sure you have them.

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