05/16/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Reconciliation from the Bottom Up

As a sense of finality settles over the race for the Democratic nomination, we are all left wondering if the wounds inflicted will heal, if the party will once again unify, or if a win in November will slip from our grasp. We know that Barack Obama will attempt to mend the divisions; we saw in his victory speech on Tuesday a sense of reconciliation. He has and will no doubt continue to celebrate Hillary Clinton's strength and achievements as well as the core values of our party.

But for reconciliation to be real and lasting, it must, like the movement that has led Obama within inches of the nomination, come from the bottom up. There has no doubt been a certain level of vitriol aimed at Hillary Clinton, her campaign, and to some extent, her supporters. As one of her most disapproving critics, I am certainly guilty of as much. I do not apologize for disagreeing with her campaign tactics, her style, or her willingness to risk the party's welfare for her own; I believe my comments, and those of many others, to have been justified, and grounded in fact. But I do believe strongly that with the race now coming to a close, we can all look back with admiration at what Hillary Clinton attempted, and what she accomplished in so doing.

The Clinton's were an extraordinarily important fixture in our government and our lives, presiding over an economic prosperity that feels as though it were born out of another world when compared to our current plight. Her biggest policy failure was a valiant attempt to provide health care to all Americans. Her biggest personal crisis was handled with poise and grace on a stage far too public, in an environment far too raw. Her tenure as a Senator from New York was marked with significant policy accomplishment and a bipartisan recognition of her talent and skill and commitment. Let us not forget that though the Clintons sought power for most of their lives, it was not power for power's sake, but rather power as a means to improve the lives of all Americans.

Though she will not ultimately succeed in breaking "that highest of glass ceilings," that she reached for it with such tenacity and strength, that she came so close to having achieved it, is proof to every schoolgirl in America that the ceiling can, in fact, be broken. The presidency is something to which they can aspire; its attainment is within their grasp.

Those who have supported Hillary from the beginning know this about their candidate. They see what was, for Obama supporters insufficient, but what for them was clearly so much. And ultimately, while we have disagreed on who should lead us out of the darkness, we all know the direction from which the light shines; we know the direction home. What will follow from here is as much our choice as it is theirs; it is as much our decision as to whether we will move forward as one, united in the belief that the promise of America must not be stolen again, that the eloquence of our founding and the persistence of our perfecting can continue on as we've always envisioned.

We cannot move forward without each other, no matter the depth of our wounds. Four more years of the last eight years could disfigure our nation beyond recognition, and perhaps beyond repair.

The bridge from primary to general must be woven with olive branches. Reconciliation must start from the bottom up.