In an interview with MSNBC's Chuck Todd released Monday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) explains why he's chosen to leave Congress, and a lot of it has to do with his deep cynicism about getting anything substantive done.
Chaffetz first cited his family as the main reason he was leaving, but then admitted that the state of politics robbed him of his previous optimism that real solutions would pass Congress.
"And then you add to it a dose of reality that the things you've been fighting for and hoping to pass and bring to the floor," Chaffetz explained, "even when you get something as bipartisan as my immigration bill which has 230 co-sponsors, it has no prospects of coming to the floor and at some point you just gotta say, 'you know what I gotta get off this crazy train.'"
"When your attitude kinda sours, it's time to hang up the cleats," he concluded.
"Are you cynical?" Todd asked.
"I am a little bit you know, and I've changed," Chaffetz admitted. "I was very optimistic. I was working sixteen hours a day."
"Yeah! You're one of these, you're the first member that I dealt with that was, loved texting folks, you sort of, you seemed to love this job," Todd said. "It was startling to see you, if you'd have said you were quitting to start running for the U.S. Senate, or that would have made sense, that's what made it surprising."
"I love the work, but I love my family more and it's hard for a lot of people to understand that, but there's also a lot of frustration in this job, in this work, in this role," Chaffetz explained. "I looked at the reality at what we were gonna be able to get done and get passed, how much I'm missing my family."
In the latter part of the interview, Chaffetz returns to the topic of his cynicism when discussing going into media for his next career.
"You need members who can answer their own questions, talk on camera, who can actually stand up at town halls and answer difficult questions," he said. "And be able to stand up on principle and say 'this is why I believe this.' And if that person isn't able to do that in your own district, then get rid of him. I mean it's something like 98% of the people get re-elected - are you kidding me?"
"I mean, I walk around this body sometimes and I look around and I think, 'did anybody ever meet you because there's no way anybody could possibly vote for you if they met you!'" he joked.
"There's a great opportunity to talk to millions of people at a time and actually truly make a difference," he added, about becoming a commentator in the media. "And I'm excited that this next phase will give me and more of an opportunity to go out and talk about the conservative values that I believe so strongly and I like the debate, that's what we're supposed to come and do."
"But we do very little debating. A lot of showboating," he concluded, "a lot of single-handed speeches, but not a lot of actual debates."
Todd remarked that it was amazing what an outgoing Congressman was willing to say.
Chaffetz is currently the chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform which was investigating the allegations of obstruction of justice by President Trump. He just recently criticized the lack of transparency in the Trump administration, saying he didn't see much difference between the current and the previous administration.