Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Last week, I was exiting my neighborhood Starbucks when I happened to overhear a middle-aged man talking to a younger man who appeared to be his son.

"It matters what you wear," the older man told the younger, whose clothes reflected a cross of grunge and goth. "When you go out with your friends on the weekend, you can dress one way; when you are going to a job, it matters what you wear."

While many might argue that appearance should not matter, we know in reality that it does. Expectations vary by subculture. What is acceptable for a musician may not work in an investment-banking firm on Wall Street. But the buttoned-up, investment-banking look might not go over well in an art deco environment.

Appearance matters in politics, too. Not simply personal appearance, but the appearance of the party and the organization itself. Is it homogeneous and reflective of a bygone era, or does it represent the heterogeneity of the American population?

Last week, my column, "If No One Goes with You, You Cannot Win," concluded: "Republicans need to communicate a compelling vision in order to win the hearts, minds and votes of the American people. This vision needs to be inviting to others, not off-putting or offensive.

"This vision would provide a framework for the tactics. Will others want to follow us? Only if the party offers a compelling vision, one that is inclusive and inviting. At every possible point, the question should be: Are we articulating a vision that people will hear and respond to?

"In the end, it's not enough to have the right policies or the right moral values. It comes down to who wants to go with you. If no one goes with you, you cannot win."

In speeches on Tuesday at the Kemp Foundation Leadership Award Dinner in Washington, D.C., Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., offered a compelling vision for the party, one that is inclusive and inviting.

I'd like to think that my column inspired them both, but I'll accept the explanation that great minds think alike.

Limit the size of government, grow the middle class and ensure opportunity for all were the themes of the night.

Ryan briefly mentioned the recent campaign but rapidly moved on. "For all of us, the work goes on," he said. "We must carry on and keep fighting for the American Idea - the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to rise ... to escape from poverty ... and to achieve whatever your God-given talents and hard work enable you to achieve."


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.