David Hoffman, writing at The American Conservative reviews the John Henry play “Republic for Which We Stand,” which premiered May 28 at the Castleton Theater House in Castleton, Virginia.
According to Henry, the play “portrays the behind-the-scenes struggle of the founding fathers and mothers in designing the Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787. They make the fateful decision to place the war power in Congress so the new nation can be a Republic, not an Empire.”
In his review, Hoffman writes:
John Henry’s transfixing play “Republic For Which We Stand” sounds the tocsin against the chosen people mentality that fuels perpetual war, one-branch government, and limitless surveillance in the United States. That un-starry-eyed message is leavened with recurring humor, satire and comedy that capture the full spectrum of vices and foibles in all their moods and tenses. Our Founding Mothers and Founding Fathers come to life, warts and all, to remind us of what made America great.
We are mired in nine unconstitutional presidential wars. None shows any light at the end of the tunnel. The multi-trillion dollar military-industrial-counterterrorism complex is extending its web everywhere, drawing all power into its vortex. Since 9/11, it has turned millions of wives into widows and children into orphans in the Middle East. No one asks why we have protest marches for women, climate change, and tax disclosure, but none for them. Tis folly to be wise and ignorance is bliss in the corridors of power and the sycophantic mainstream media.
“Republic For Which We Stand” is a breath of fresh air. It dramatizes the birth of the American republic and the wisdom of the founders in entrusting war-making responsibility exclusively to Congress. Yet thirteen successive administrations have flouted the Declare War Clause of the Constitution. When Truman started the first presidential war in Korea, Secretary of State Dean Acheson boasted: “The United States is the locomotive of mankind and the rest of the world the caboose.” Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make arrogant.
The great little James Madison is featured in Henry’s action-packed play as the wunderkind of the Constitutional Convention. He uniquely understood that institutions have personalities; and that institutional personalities trump the personalities of the occupants. Madison recognized that the executive branch personality—like a pit bull—concocts excuses for war to aggrandize power and to leave a legacy. But the legislative branch, which gains nothing from belligerency, goes to war only in self-defense—like a Labrador retriever. Thus, as thirty-five consecutive Congresses abjectly surrendered their war power, the nation has fought gratuitous presidential wars irrespective of the varied personalities of the White House occupants. Only the official picture in the White House War Room changes from presidency to presidency.
The war power is the most important enumerated power. War dethrones the rule of law. Everything is subservient to national security. Thus, in the name of fighting international terrorism, we have endowed the president with power to play prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner to kill any person on the planet the president believes is an imminent threat based on secret, unsubstantiated information. King George III would have blushed with envy. Friedrich Nietzsche got it wrong. God isn’t dead. God has simply moved into the Oval Office.
Read more here.