Would someone please tell me why there is a "Democratic response" to a speech to the American people by the president?

When the president makes a speech, as he did the other night, he is speaking as president of all the people -- a position to which he was elected by Democrats and independents as well as Republicans. There is only one American president, and he represents all of us, not just Republicans.

Who does Sen. George Mitchell represent? I believe he was elected by the people of the state of Maine to represent them in the Senate. He was not elected to public office by the people of any other state, so what is the rationale for having him follow a speech by the president with his own thoughts?

I think this practice is demeaning to the office of the president, as well as to the man who happens to be occupying that position. On the other hand, if the president makes a political speech as the top Republican, someone has to pay the networks for the air time. Similarly, if there is to be a Democratic response, someone has to pay for that time. This practice is proper. However, the president's recent speech was not a political one, and no opposing response should have been aired.

Sen. Mitchell and anyone else should be free to make any comments they would like regarding the president's speech, but their comments should not be highlighted as the Democratic response. GEORGE R. ALLIN JR. Arlington