Last weekend my neighbor offered me four tickets to attend the Barack Obama rally in Minneapolis. Although I'm a longtime member of the Independence Party, my wife and I took our two children and joined 20,000 people to hear the dynamic young presidential candidate.
In terms of rhetoric, we were not disappointed. My spine tingled as Obama began his speech by recalling the legendary words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and framing his candidacy in terms of the "fierce urgency of now."
I was even more moved when he told the audience that he would tell people "not what they wanted to hear, but what they needed to hear."
"Yes," I said to myself, "that's precisely what's required."
Obama then followed this statement by claiming that he alone had the courage to go into Detroit and tell the automobile industry that it needed to increase fuel-efficiency standards to 35 miles per gallon.
"Perhaps Obama is different," I thought. This was in spite of the fact that earlier in his speech he had already promised that by the end of his first term, every American would have health insurance, every child under 5 would have access to early education, and that he would successfully cap America's carbon dioxide emissions.
I could hardly believe it, but I was on the verge of being swayed by Obama.
Now, I figured, he was going to tell us that if his administration hoped to accomplish these goals, we -- the citizens -- needed to be part of the solution.
Unfortunately, no great call to action came. Not one of his promises was followed by a concrete example of what we could do to help address these enormous challenges. In short, Obama told his audience only what we wanted to hear.
To be fair, none of the candidates has yet leveled with the American public about its culpability in contributing to the health care crisis and global climate change. But I sense Obama is setting up himself and his supporters for failure unless he gets serious about confronting the American public with the costs and personal sacrifices required to achieve his compelling vision of the future.
I remain open to voting for Obama -- just as I am open to John McCain or Michael Bloomberg (should he decide to run) -- but I want a leader who doesn't simply inspire me, but calls me to action. I suspect a great many other independents feel the same.
Jack Uldrich is former chair of the Independence Party of Minnesota.