Jason Chaffetz: For better results on public policy, reward solutions, not anger

"It pains me to say this," CNN's Fareed Zakaria told his Sunday audience regarding President Trump's immigration policies, "but he is right, that the United States faces a crisis with its asylum system."

The startling admission from one of the left's more reliable media allies was followed by a detailed explanation of the data and the history backing the conclusion. America's asylum process truly is broken – and many suffer as a result.

Given the factual and public support for solving this problem, one might think a bipartisan solution would be easy to reach. It hasn't been.

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Instead, immigration and border security have become key in the Democratic play to stoke anger. Given the strength of the Trump economy, they've had to throw out the inequality card and play the race card to stir up dissent.

Unfortunately, too many Americans have unwittingly played into their hands.

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When we stop rewarding candidates who solve problems and instead favor causes and candidates who exacerbate them, we eliminate the incentives for good public policy. High levels of anger and frustration correlate with high levels of donations to campaigns and politically-oriented nonprofit groups.

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In the wake of the 2016 Trump election, nonprofits referred to the "Trump bump" to describe the massive increase in donations driven by anger on the left.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reported receiving $7 million from 120 donors in the five days following Trump’s victory. By contrast, the New York Times reported, the five days following President Obama’s reelection brought in just $28,000 from 354 donors to the ACLU.

Lawmaking in general has become a forgotten responsibility as Pelosi looks to convert every legislative shield into a political sword.

In public policy, we get more of what we reward and less of what we penalize. Trump's understanding of this principal is key to our economic success. His economy rewards the hard working, the law-biding, and the risk takers, spurring strong growth and low unemployment.

Unfortunately, when we reward angry politicians by opening our checkbooks to them, politicians learn to keep us angry.

The good news in all of this is that voters have the power to change this dynamic. We get to decide which candidates and organizations garner our votes, our time, and our dollars. Instead of rewarding obstruction, we can choose to reward problem solving.

Since taking control of the House of Representatives in January, Democrats have shown little appetite for solutions to our most pressing problems. As I outline in my new book, "Power Grab," solving real problems such as the border crisis is now considered bad strategy. Instead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's anemic legislative efforts have been message bills with no bipartisan appeal.

Pelosi's top bill in the 116th Congress did not address any of the issues voters list as their top 18, according to surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center.

Instead, the problem Pelosi prioritized was grabbing power. She introduced legislation to federalize local elections, ensuring policies that provide electoral advantages to Democrats would be forced into every precinct in America. To Pelosi, that problem was more important than border security, health care, the broken FBI, or the economy.

Lawmaking in general has become a forgotten responsibility as Pelosi looks to convert every legislative shield into a political sword. Who can forget the eight committees investigating unsupported allegations against Trump?

Instead of rewarding this recalcitrance, voters can stand up for problem solvers in Congress, in the executive branch, and among our politically active nonprofits. Zakaria should be commended for acknowledging a very real problem and Trump's efforts to solve it.

Anyone can visit congress.gov and enter search terms to find legislative proposals that address serious problems. Many of those proposals never see the light of day. In fact, I began introducing legislation to address asylum reform back in 2014 that would have prevented many of the problems we face today. But that legislation never made it past the committee vote.

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If we want problem solvers, we must reward them. We can fund their campaigns, promote their bills, work to forward good solutions, and vote for candidates who demonstrate an ability to focus on problem solving.

Only when we reject the politics of anger, obstruction, and division will we begin to find the bipartisan solutions that can improve our lives and our politics.

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