Dear Gov. Dean: Are You Ready to Lead?

There's still time for you to save the Democratic Party.

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Clinton's camp will argue that she is the candidate of the party's blue-collar base. This is an unsupportable argument. The demographics that Clinton attracts in the primaries are demographics dominated by GOP voters in the general election. She will not be the choice of the working class, white men, and senior voters. John McCain will be.

Mr. Dean, the Democratic coalition isn't the only one that is fragile right now. There are important segments of the Republican coalition who are uncomfortable with the social conservatism and war mongering of the recent Bush administration. They are ripe for realignment; but they are deeply suspicious of the Clintons. They need a reason to jump ship. Obama offers them one.

Mr. Dean, now is the time for courage. Your party has chosen a nominee, and he is a capable of creating and shoring up a new and lasting Democratic majority built on a national, multiracial, intergenerational coalition of men and women. Last night Senator Obama said, "I love this country too much to see it divided and distracted at this moment in our history."

Mr. Dean, how much do you love your party? It is time to start making the call, publicly and privately, for Hillary Clinton to exit the race. Your party needs you. Are you prepared to lead?

Sincerely,

Melissa

Melissa Harris-Lacewell is an associate professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University.