Did you notice how Barack Obama avoided the personal attacks that became the stock and trade of John McCain and, especially, Sarah Palin? Yes, it was easier to resist negative campaigning because Obama and Joe Biden were ahead in the polls, but I also think Obama was mindful that there is no point to winning if the country is divided and nothing can be accomplished.

If he wants to pursue big changes – putting the economy on track, health care reform, climate change and green jobs, tax reform – he needs the people of Ohio as well as the people of California on his side.

People who inhabit the left wing of the Democratic Party don’t always get this. They want Obama to stand up for every spending program that they think is a good idea. Never mind that the country is broke, or that the big successes involve holding together a broad coalition of voters.

Yes, Democrats in places such as Sonoma County can spend a few days gloating. (If you want to enjoy the Republicans’ discomfort, Google “Palin and Sarkozy,” and listen to the audio of Palin’s embarrassing conversation with a Canadian disc jockey masquerading as French President Nicolas Sarkozy.)

After a few days, however, Democrats needs to understand that the new president has a mandate to fix the economy and put the nation on the right track – not to accomplished their personal laundry lists of new programs. Obama’s success will depend on liberals’ willingness to accept that politics is the art of compromise.

Which is the subject of my Sunday column. Click here.