Tuesday, August 7th is Election Day. We urge everyone to get out and vote in the first primary of our state and local elections. However, I have a beef with the system. As I have said in the past, I'm in favor of open primaries. Up until fairly recent history, Mississippi was essentially a one party state. Virtually everyone who really expected to get elected ran as a Democrat. That held true, as the old saying goes, for everyone from "dogcatcher to governor". Now, of course, that's changed dramatically and you have to choose which primary you're going to participate in. If your choice for, say Lt. Governor, belongs to one party and your choice for Supervisor or Sheriff is running under the banner of the other party, you have to decide about which race is more important for you to cast your ballot. Only in November do we have an open election where one can cross party lines to vote for the individual of their choice. After this election, if a recent court ruling stands, everything will be taken to the next level. In order to vote in the primary elections you will have to officially join one of the political parties. That's right you'll have to become a registered member of a particular party...in order to vote in their primary. Frankly, like many of you, I've always been an independent thinker who doesn't care to drink too deeply from anyone's Kool-Aide jar. I prefer to vote for the individual...not the party. I also don't like the stereo-types that come with having to label yourself. Just because I'm a member of the media community, I don't want to be identified as a flaming liberal. Being an acknowledged Christian can cause one to be thought of as a wild-eyed zealot by one group of folks...or judged as a hypocrite because a word, opinion or action doesn't fit with someone else's idea of what that means. We're all very far from perfect. I couldn't be prouder of being a Mississippian and a Southerner...but I sure don't like some of the stereotypes that a lot of folks hold concerning that. I realize perception of others is the price we pay for belonging to virtually any group-and that's just a fact of life. But when it comes to politics, I've always liked to keep my options open. The party I happen to be partial to on a number of issues sometimes zigs when I zag. I don't want to be on anyone's mailing lists...or hit up for contributions. Last, but not least, as a working Journalist...I'd just as soon keep my political affiliations private. You may or may not agree with my commentaries and opinions...but I don't want anyone to think any party's platform influences what I stand for. Making all our primaries and elections open ones would give us all the right to vote for the person and not just the party. That's the way I think it should be. Let me know what you think.