Forty years this month, I turned 18 and pondered my choices of political party affiliation. I stood at my local post office and registered for the U.S. Selective Service and I registered to vote. 

As a disciple of Reaganomics and a proponent for a strong nation, the choice was clear: I registered as a Republican. Through the years I never imagined the journey that decision would bear in my life. As a student of political science at a very liberal university, I was accosted by fellow students and even faculty. As a Youth Advisory Council representative to Mayor Tom Bradley, I was an anomaly as a Latino Republican. Many chuckled in confusion.

But I have left the Republican Party for becoming a rudderless entity that has been overtaken by nativists and coincidentally can’t even agree on who will be speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. 

I have changed my party registration from Republican to California’s “No Party Preference,” otherwise voting independent of party affiliation. 

My political work as a young man was as an employee of the Los Angeles County Republican Party, working the phones to re-elect Reagan/Bush in 1984, and volunteering for a few candidate campaigns. Later, I joined corporate America and my political stripes factored heavily on my professional standing and in my social circles. I continued to volunteer for a few Republican candidates, but the contributions were minimal. 

It wasn’t until I volunteered to work for John McCain in 2008 that I was immersed into serious media and voter contact strategies and campaign work. It was then that I considered entering a full time career change into political electioneering and punditry. 

A few fellow Republican friends from that campaign took me under their wings and attempted to cram 20 years of their campaign hardships and successes into me. I was now a professional political operative, with a specialty in Latino communities. Over the last 13 years, I have worked on countless campaigns promoting Republican candidates and was Co-Founder of a Latino Political PAC that was focused on electing Latino Republicans to local municipal non-partisan offices. I also served the California Republican Party and the National Republican Committee as a delegate for years. 

I have been interviewed, debated and even was a target of egg tossing at a Republican event. Not to mention I was the recipient of a few choice words by Progressives for being a Latino Republican. There were even a few death threats here and there. Yet, my choice of party affiliation remained steady. My vision in services was born from my sense of duty to the nation, that my contribution to the political discourse would help mold policies that would keep our nation strong. While electoral jostling, I never saw my Democrat friends as enemies, but rather uninformed on the way at making our nation better. I’ve always made many great friendships with Democrat political operatives.

For a few years now, however, I’ve no longer felt that my contributions to the Republican Party Organization have helped our communities. My political resources and standing had been directed to curtail the putrid veil of hate that has overtaken the sense of patriotic duty that first attracted me to the Republican Party. But my efforts have been met with calls of treachery and ridicule by those in command of the party mechanisms. Although my love and appreciation remain for many of my Republican comrades whom I still hold in the highest esteem, I no longer can continue to serve my nation under the flag of the Republican Party we once fought under. 

As a California designee “No Party Preference” I become an independent voter. As an operative, I now choose to continue working with leaders of any party that want to run for office and serve their communities, especially those that run for non-partisan office. As a media pundit, I will no longer take a side to defend actions by any party but will render my opinion on mechanics of political process and examination of candidate positions. My love of country remains as strong as when I took my oath joining the Army. 

My commitment to helping our country remains strong, and will grow even stronger as an independent.

Luis Alvarado is president of Luis Alvarado Public Affairs and the former president of Familias Unidas de California. He is also a co-founder of GROW Elect Political Action Committee that helps Latino...