It's time for a change.

The American people told the Democratic Party just that a month ago when Ronald Reagan piled up the most electoral votes in history, even more than Franklin Roosevelt won in his second race for the presidency.

Today the mainline of the Democratic Party is searching for the kind of leadership that will bring it back to Middle America, back in step with the way the people of the country think. I want to help lead that effort.

The Democratic Party has the best talent, and it has the best opportunity right now -- not two years from now -- to work toward regaining control of the U.S. Senate. If we wait, if we are too cautious, we could miss the chance and spend years in the wilderness.

We must be prepared now -- not two years from now -- to show we are a party capable of change and finding new solutions. To do that we will need leadership able to forge consensus from the opposite ends of our party.

During the last two years, as ranking Democratic member of the Budget Committee, I was able to bridge the differences within our party and help promote Democratic positions.

Two years ago, Senate Democrats on the Budget Committee put together a budget that passed the Senate even though we were not the majority party.

This year, Senate Democrats proposed a deficit-reduction plan totaling $200 billion over the next three years. It failed on a tie vote, but every Democrat voted for it.

And this year, Senate Democrats put together a creative alternative on the MX missile that ultimately prevailed. It showed that Democrats are equally concerned about our national defense and our nation's economy.

In each of those cases, it was necessary to recognize people's individual views and reconcile their needs. That's what we need now more than ever. We need someone willing to take the bit and get on with the job of developing answers that show the Democrats have initiative and ability.

In recent times, Democrats have been closed out of the policy-making role by a Republican White House and a Republican Senate. It's time we elbowed our way back in. And the only way we can do that is by getting ourselves together with strong positions of our own. Forging those positions will take strong, new leadership, and we need someone ready to provide it.

A strong, new Democratic presence in the Senate can help develop answers to the problems of the '80s and beyond. And if, with a bold stroke, we can make room for new leadership in 1984, we will have a much better chance to make room for new voters in 1986.

You can only circle the wagons so long. There comes a time when you have to hitch up the team and move out. It's time for Democrats to get moving. That's what prompted me to seek the leadership post of the Democrats in the Senate. I do so not because I'm against the leaders of the present, but because we must have hope and leadership for the future of our party.