Former councilman makes national headlines quitting GOP

Michael London
Michael London

When former five-term Town Councilman Michael London sat down to write a commentary detailing his reasons for quitting the Republican Party and registering as an unaffiliated voter, he expected his words would get a reaction. That was the point. But even he is shocked at the amount and intensity of the feedback he has received.

“I’ve received a lot of comments, and most of them have been surprisingly supportive,” London said Tuesday, four days after his his column, My Party’s Over: Why I Quit the Republican Party, ran in the Hartford Courant. “But some of the ones that weren’t supportive have been really off the wall in some ways.”

There was the person who accused London of being involved in a conspiracy with the Hartford Courant to undermine President Donald Trump. Others have described him as the equivalent of a disgruntled former employee. But on the other hand, London said he has heard from others, including retired military members, who were current or former Republicans who agreed with his stand but were afraid to speak out.

The commentary also has traveled far beyond Trumbull. It was featured on the Washington, D.C. political news website, The Hill (read story here), where it was shared more than 9,000 times and generated more than 600 comments. A commentary by Naval War College Professor Tom Nichols that ran in the Washington Post also contained praise for London.

In his commentary, London said leaving the party was like letting go of part of his personal history.

“I believe in smaller government, tight budgets and lower taxes,” he wrote. “I believe that helping business grow is good for our economy. So, it is with great dismay that I find I can no longer be part of the Republican Party. It is no longer the party that I believed in all these years.”

Most, but not all of his reasons, had to do with Trump. He went on to list specific actions that he found repellent: Dishonesty, separating immigrant children from their families, attacks on the media, abuse of women, encouraging increased pollution and, more likely than not, collusion with an enemy, he wrote.

Perhaps most galling though, was the refusal of state and local GOP officials to take a stand against such behavior, he said. All five Republican candidates for governor gave Trump’s job performance an “A” during a debate. That, he said, was what finally spurred him to action.

“My intent was pretty simple: I wanted Republicans to know it’s OK to speak out, and I felt an obligation. I can’t influence Washington, but I can speak out on what I believe in, and if enough other people speak out, then maybe Washington will hear us.”

And while London wrote in his commentary that Trump does not reflect real Republican values, he also acknowledged Trump’s approval rating among Republicans, while declining in recent weeks, remains in the high 70s, according to most polls. This means that, to paraphrase Republican icon Ronald Reagan, the party may have left London.

“I have made many friends over the years in the Republican Party,” he wrote. “I am saddened by the fact that many will be more than offended by what I am saying … But I can't take it anymore.”