The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Feedback for the Gang of 44

The last rays of sunlight fall on the dome of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 30.
The last rays of sunlight fall on the dome of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 30. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Placeholder while article actions load

Anyone looking for a clear-cut answer as to why recent Gallup polls place the approval rating of Congress 19 points below that of President Trump (21 percent and 40 percent, respectively) need look no further than “The Senate must defend democracy,” a Dec. 11 letter from 44 former U.S. senators to their sitting colleagues [op-ed].

The Gang of 44, as I shall call them, apparently believe it is necessary to inform their colleagues that “the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld.” Presumably, this profound bit of wisdom has not yet revealed itself to the current crop of senators, despite their having taken an oath to “support and defend the Constitution.”

Unfortunately, these former senators failed to offer specific action items; rather, they, like so many in the chattering class, simply want the Senate to do the right thing at the right time.

This is precisely the sort of prattle wafting from the mouths of “those who know better” that has caused the public to turn away from politics. Citizens throughout the United States are literally begging for clear statements and commitments from those who purport to lead, even if it might mean losses at the ballot box.

So, Gang of 44, please write a new letter to your colleagues and tell them precisely what policies and/or programs you want them to enact; be specific, please.

Paul Rankin, Rockville

Some of the 44 former senators who signed the Dec. 11 letter against the sitting president helped create the situation that awaited President Trump in the White House on Inauguration Day.

It is gratifying to read of a heartfelt commitment to the “rule of law” among senators who held President Barack Obama’s coat as he and Secretary of State John F. Kerry took a chain saw to Senate constitutional prerogatives. No senator, serving or retired, has done more than Mr. Trump to restore them.

Richard J. Douglas, College Park

The writer is a former chief counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and former general counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

My heart is smiling. The letter to members of the Senate from former members of that august body showed a spirit of collegiality not witnessed in this beloved nation of ours in more than two years. The message was succinct and earnestly stated. Thanks to all those who signed. They have renewed my faith in the democratic process.

Claire O'Dwyer Randall, Springfield