A playwright is bringing to the Capitol his message that the power of declaring war needs to remain in the hands of Congress.
“Republic For Which We Stand” by John B. Henry will be shown in the Congressional Auditorium Tuesday evening. Henry is one of the founders of the Committee for the Republic, a group of citizens which has been meeting to talk about war since George W. Bush sent troops into Iraq.
“[War] is not Donald Trump’s decision or [Barack] Obama’s decision or George Bush’s decision — it’s Congress’ decision. We need to have this debated on in the Senate and House floor,” Henry said.
His play, performed by non-professional actors, gives a behind-the-scenes look at how the founding fathers — and mothers — drafted the Constitution and put the decision to declare war on Congress.
The play is focused around George and Martha Washington, James and Dolly Madison and George and Sarah Mason sparring with Alexander Hamilton over executive power. It also uses a play-within-the-play, which involves the Washingtons performing a play about Medieval England to convey their message.
“The founders were the smartest people around. They knew if you wanted to stay out of war, you should give the war power to the least aggressive branch,” Henry said. “Institutions have personalities and the executive is really aggressive like a pit bull, and the legislative is like a Labrador retriever.”
Reps. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and Barbara Lee, D-Calif., will receive the group’s Defender of Liberty award before the play begins for defending Congress’ responsibilities for going to war. This is the first time the committee will give a lawmaker an award.
Jones, Henry said, wants to start a “declare a war” caucus, and the committee would be available to him to give him support in forming a caucus. The committee is a nonpolitical 501(c)3 and is made up of both conservative and liberal citizens.
“I think it’s a very big deal,” Henry said about holding his play in the Capitol. Jones sponsored the play’s performance there.
“If this goes well tomorrow night, we may have other members of Congress who will sponsor us and we welcome the opportunity to do this play again and again,” Jones said.
Following the play, Jones will participate in a Q&A. The awards ceremony, play and Q&A are all free and begin at 6 p.m. in the Capitol Visitor Center’s Congressional Auditorium.