Of all the morning-after fretting about the future of the Republican Party’s relevance in a majority-minority country, GOP strategist Chuck Warren’s comment was my favorite: “To be frank, we’re a ‘Mad Men’ party in a ‘Modern Family’ world.”

Then there was Newt Gingrich preaching what’s been apparent to everyone except party elders. He told The Wall Street Journal that the GOP had to figure out how to connect with minority voters and “simply has to learn” to appear more inclusive to minorities, and Hispanics in particular. “Appear” more inclusive? No, the Republican Party has to actually be more inclusive, and it can’t make the mistake of courting Hispanics at the expense of other minority populations.

The Republicans need only stick to a simple trifecta of inclusiveness — to be “connected, respected and reflected.” I heard this at a recent discussion, “The Power of the Multicultural Consumer,” about Nielsen consumer research. It was said by Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, Nielsen’s senior vice president of public affairs and government relations.

“Being ‘connected’ to people of other backgrounds means you can’t just talk at people, you have to get them to feel something that makes them think that you understand their culture,” Pearson-McNeil said. A good way to start is to dig into the mountains of data on the three largest minority groups and learn what they’re really about.

For instance, the African-American voting group is a deeply misunderstood, socioeconomically diverse electorate that the GOP has ignored since Barack Obama was elected. Is there a better time than now to capitalize on the disillusionment so many African-Americans felt as they re-elected a president who has been criticized for not embracing their issues to avoid showing favoritism?

“‘Respected’ means you have to value and respect me full-time, not just during Black History Month or Asian-American Month,” Pearson-McNeil said.

On Election Day, the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development sent out a release reiterating the fact most Asian-Americans were not asked by any campaign, political party or organization to vote or to register. Talk about a missed opportunity with a population that boasts the highest average sales and hiring among all immigrant-owned businesses.

“‘Reflected’ means that I can see myself, my culture, my lifestyle in whatever you’re doing,” said Pearson-McNeil. The Republicans actually did a pretty good job here with the number of diverse political leaders who spoke at their convention. But it’s not enough.

The GOP’s young leaders must school their elders on connecting, reflecting and respecting. Hispanics are not all (illegal) immigrants. Muslim-Americans cannot be routinely smeared with the term “terrorist.” And our common language is English. See? Not easy, but simple.


Esther Cepeda writes for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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