A GOP Congressional Candidate's Lonely Voice

By Rosalind S. Helderman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 13, 2008

No Republican has captured more than 25 percent of the vote in Maryland's 4th Congressional District since its boundaries, twisting through Montgomery and Prince George's counties, were redrawn not long before the congressional election in 1992.

So Germantown Republican Peter James knows he faces a tough challenge in a special election Tuesday against Democrat Donna F. Edwards. The two are competing to serve out the term of Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D), who resigned May 31 midway through his eighth term in Congress, after his defeat in February's Democratic primary.

But James, 52, has things he wants to say. So he's been out distributing fliers at Metro stations and has hung a few campaign banners stenciled with the slogan "Google Money as Debt."

The signs refer to a cartoon video produced by a Canadian artist. James includes the video on his campaign Web site and said it encapsulates much of his own broad critique of the nation's financial system. Among the theories advanced in the video is that banks issue debt without creating enough money to pay back interest on loans. The growing debt monster, the video suggests, could bring down entire economic systems.

It urges the creation of local currencies not issued by governments, in case of economic collapse, as well as interest-free lending, and it preaches that government should not go into debt to fund services.

"To me, there is need, whether or not I get to Congress," he said. "I'm not sure that's where change comes anyway. It comes from the people. But this is a bully pulpit."

James, who has received the endorsement of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), a libertarian presidential candidate, espouses many of the theories of Paul's most ardent supporters. He favors a drastic reduction in government spending and is opposed to the Iraq war. James said the more he talks about the ideas, the more support he gets.

"People in their hearts, they know there is something fundamentally wrong. But they can't put their finger on it," he said.

Born in Nashville, James grew up in Maryland before moving to California, where he ran his own call-in radio show and consulted for high-tech firms, including a booming Intel. Now living again in Maryland, he tries to live in freedom as he understands it.

Rather than allow the government to store his personal information in a database controlled by a private company, James forgoes a driver's license. His Army captain wife ferries him from place to place when his campaign manager doesn't give him a lift.

He pays no taxes -- because he is not taking in income. He was issued a Social Security number when he was young but never uses it. He has no bank account, no credit card. He and his wife rent their home, rather than take on personal debt through a mortgage.

Without his wife, Diana, who he said does pay taxes and uses a credit card, James said he'd have to completely withdraw from society to live out his ideals.

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