Focus is usually not one of my weak points, but last night, listening to Barack Obama's nomination acceptance speech, my mind repeatedly wandered to the parking situation here in New York City. Yes, the hour was late, but that was not the reason for my mind's meandering. Allow me to explain...

The parking situation in New York City is a disaster; the ratio of cars to available parking spaces is way out of whack. The shortage of parking is one of the primary reasons why I don't own a car. On those occasions when I need to borrow or rent a car, I will often spend – this is no exaggeration – up to 45 minutes circling around my house, looking for a vacant spot. The ten minute walk from home to office is a 30 minute drive—counting the time spent searching for parking.

I firmly believe that a candidate for mayor of New York who would run on a single platform, promising that he or she would alleviate the parking dilemma, would score a landslide victory. Of course the candidate would have to assure us that he would appoint a team of experts in their respective fields to oversee the administration of the city and its multifarious needs. But as opposed to the standard candidate who offers an opinion, empty promises, and a mission statement on every possible issue – and then is accountable for none – I prefer a candidate who will single-mindedly and tenaciously pursue the solutions to one, two or maximum three issues. Issues that might not be of the greatest importance, but ones, like parking, that matter to the electorate.

This would also make it very easy to assess a candidate's success when his term concludes.

Listening to last night's speech, I was reminded of countless other such speeches I've heard in the past—from candidates right, left and center. Mr. Obama, a masterful orator, was dutifully following in the footsteps of politicians and statesman who preceded him. And I'm fairly certain that John McCain's speech next week in Minnesota will be much of the same.

The speech featured promise after promise. It got to the point that I lost count of them all. Here are just some of them:

As president of the United States, Obama will:

  • Completely overhaul the corporate and income tax codes.
  • Eliminate our dependency on foreign oil in ten years and invest in clean coal, nuclear, and renewable energy sources.
  • Provide every child with a "world-class" education.
  • Set higher standards and more accountability for educators—while giving them higher salaries.
  • Arrange for affordable, accessible healthcare for every American and ensure that insurance companies don't discriminate against the sick.
  • Arrange for paid sick days for workers... Change the bankruptcy laws... Protect Social Security... "Equal pay for an equal day"... Eliminate all federal programs that no longer work...

We've heard all these promises before, and though they are laudable goals, virtually none of them panned out. I wish we had a candidate with a much "smaller" mind. A "one-track minded" candidate if you wish to call it so.

Obama said last night: "America, now is not the time for small plans." I agree. Let's have big plans, but just one or two of them. After those are resolved, we can tackle another few...

Next week we enter the month of Elul, the final month of the Jewish calendar year, a month billed by the mystics as a time of extreme Divine benevolence. During this month we take stock of the previous year, resolving to build on the year's achievements and seeking out the areas in our lives that require improvement.

If you are on the same boat as I am – or on another boat, but traversing the same raging sea that I am attempting to navigate – then there are many areas in your life that could use redressing. As we approach the task of self-improvement, resolving that next year will be so much better, holier and harmonious than the year that is quickly fading, let us steer clear from grandiose all-encompassing plans.

Let's focus on defeating one, two or three irksome habits or behaviors. Let us resolve to do one or two more mitzvot. No one ever climbed a ladder by leaping to the top. We have to take it one rung at a time.

This is a winning formula. I wouldn't be surprised if political strategists soon see this path's wisdom.