David Dreier was 26, still living in a dorm at Claremont McKenna College and working as a college administrator, when he ran for Congress the first time, in 1978. He lost then but never thereafter. Sixteen times, Dreier was elected to theHouse of Representatives from a San Gabriel Valley/San Bernardino County district. He became the youngest-ever chairman of the Rules Committee, mastering the machinery of the House. But in February, he announced he would not seek reelection. He leaves behind a sharply redrawn district, and a Congress he insists is not so awfully different from the one he entered more than half his life ago.
You went to Washington in the "Ronald Reagan Class of 1980.'' Pundits have said even Reagan wouldn't manage in today's political climate.
I joke that Reagan could not win the Republican nomination and John F. Kennedy could not win the Democratic nomination. When I made my [retirement] announcement, I said this institution is as great as it's ever been. That led everyone to scratch their heads. The institution is reflective of society and the body politic. We have a very divided America; that being represented in Congress does not diminish it, even though it has a 10% approval rating — lower than Moammar Kadafi's, from the people who killed him! The attention is always on areas of disagreement, but that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of things getting done reasonably well.
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