About a year ago I was watching a DVD of a Steve Earle concert. He introduced one song by explaining his objection to the death penalty: "I object to the government killing people because I object to me killing people, and the government is acting in my name."

As the presidential campaign goes into full sling, I find myself thinking about Earle's statement — not just with respect to the death penalty, but as a general principle: In my name. What if I were to accept that the President of the United States acts in my name? And what if I were to accept personal responsibility for that?

The "in my name" principle lends clarity, meaning, and significance as I decide who to vote for: What would this person do in my name? How well would those actions reflect my values?