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July 21st, 2010

It’s the Little Things That Matter Most

By James Johnson

This is my last column for

Next week, I will be moving to Virginia to start law school. And for the next three years, my wife will become a law school widow, my kids will become law school orphans, and I will become a slave to classes, to case law, to Westlaw, and to hornbooks.

As much as I like to write about politics, necessity forces me to set my opining aside for three years. But before I do, I want to thank TIR’s founder and editor Craig Robinson for letting me be a small part of this blogsite.

TIR is becoming one of the most popular state-based political blogs in the country, and with the Iowa Straw Poll just 13 months away, and the Iowa Caucuses 19 months away, it will undoubtedly become a twice-a-day fix for political junkies and journalists from Washington D.C. to Washington state who follow presidential politics.

Well done, Craig!

For my last blog, I wanted to go out with a bang. I wanted to write something big. Something important. Something substantial. But then it happened. One of life’s little lessons snuck up on me when I least expected it, and shared a secret with me: that the so-called big things are not really that big… and often, the little things are the truly important things.

My daughter Victoria is only 13 years old. She is short for her age. Very short. When she was young, she could not pronounce her “V”s. They came out like “B”s. So instead of saying her name correctly, she would say, “I’m Bictoria.”

That became an endearing sound for our family. We started calling her “Bic” for short. Then, because of her size, Little Bic. She loves it.

At the Hamilton County Fair on Tuesday, Victoria was the smallest contestant in any of the live competition. Yet she won the Grand Prize for Showmanship at the Dog Obedience Show.

Iowa has 99 counties. And in each county, there is a winner for this competition. And each year this is repeated. So each decade, Iowa has nearly 1,000 winners of this prize.

So winning this prize may not be a big deal in the news world. And in the political world, it means absolutely nothing. But in my world, it does. Because for our small daughter, this is the first thing that she has won, of which she truly feels proud.

Standing next to the other teenagers who towered over her, Little Bic looked pretty tiny. Her dog “Prince” is almost as large as she is. And her trophy is nearly half her size. But when she won that prize, she felt, well… big!

And at that point, I realized that nothing I could about for my last entry in this political blog would mean as much to me as this little, 99 times-a-year repeated event. Because it was my daughter. Little Bic.

Nothing profound. Nothing enlightening. Nothing illuminating. Just one of life’s little lessons that I will try to tuck away for the next three years while I do something that the world tells me is “really important.” But I wonder how important it really is.

Pondering Bic’s accomplishment for a few hours, I began to recall many of the things she has done in her young life.

Politically, she started door-knocking for Republican candidates in 2002, when she was only five. Because of her size, she only looked three. Nobody slams the door in your face or refuses to take your literature when you are that small. How can they?

As I would go to one door on the street, she would go to the next door. She would rap on the door with her tiny little hands. A total stranger would answer. And she would hold out the campaign literature for our desired candidate.

United States Senator… United States Congressman… Senate Majority Leader… Candidate for Governor… all “big” men… yet she is so little.

In her 13 years of life, Victoria has worked five election cycles (with her brothers and sister of course). But personally, she has visited over 1,000 doors, and has passed out more than 2,000 pieces of campaign literature for good candidates.

It is campaign season again, and — yes — she is working. She believes that each time she goes to a door, she is “helping a good person win.”

Helping a good person win. Hmmm. I don’t think that I can add much to that. So I won’t.

…Except to say that she now pronounces her “V”s correctly.

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About the Author

James M. Johnson
James M. Johnson is the president of the Iowa Republican Assembly, which works to get constitutionally minded conservatives elected to leadership positions in the Republican Party, and to elective office on the local, state, and federal level. He has worked on over 50 political campaigns and holds an M.A. in public policy with a concentration in political communication.

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