‘We welcome the voices of newcomers to the public conversation — the young, immigrants, people of different cultures, people of color, people of different orientations. All are important members of the Maine family.” – Maine Gov. Janet Mills during her inauguration ceremony on Jan. 2.

Contrast the words of Janet Mills with those of her predecessor Paul LePage on the subject of inclusion. During a 2014 Gubernatorial debate, for example, he said, “If we can’t build a fence high enough, we ought to go to China and see how they built a wall.” Not surprisingly, LePage once boasted that, “I was Donald Trump before Donald Trump was popular.”

“He said, ‘If we ever close the door to new Americans, our leadership role in the world will soon be lost.’” – Nancy Pelosi quoting President Ronald Reagan after being sworn in as Speaker of the House on Jan. 3.

By selecting this quote from Reagan, Pelosi took a skillful jab at Donald Trump who campaigned on building a wall and whose comments often disparage people of color . When she quoted Reagan, most Republicans in Congress refused to applaud, looking grim, afraid of angering the volatile bully in the White House. Clearly, the Republican Party has become the Trump party. It is now the party of fear and greed.

The times they are, indeed, a changin’, and political leaders who cling to the gauzy vision of a white Christian patriarchy do so at their peril.

Any sentient human being had to have been moved when two young Maine girls Shy Paca and Natalia Mbadu of Maine’s Boys & Girls Clubs belted out “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys. (If you missed it, Google it.) Or when the Portland String Quartet gave a stirring rendition of the Shaker Song, “Simple Gifts.” Or when poet Wesley McNair delivered his poem, “Song of the Unsung.”

Any American — especially any parent or grandparent — had to have been moved by the sight of Nancy Pelosi being surrounded by her grandchildren and other children during her swearing in ceremony. If Congress — if anyone — is not here to create a better world for our children and grandchildren, then why are we here?

Pelosi noted that over 100 women members of Congress are prepared to make a big difference in 2019, the 100th anniversary of women being granted the right to vote. The new Congress is characterized by greater diversity on all fronts, but it’s a skewed picture. The photo of Democratic members of Congress increasingly resembles America. The photo of Republican members, however, still looks more like a picture of a Rotary Club in Omaha, Nebraska — old, white, mostly male.

Some readers might accuse me of being “politically correct,” a common plaint of anyone who’s uncomfortable with the changing demographics of America. To that, I say,”Hogwash.” Ours is a better nation to the extent that we welcome all of our citizens to the table — at schools, colleges, corporations and, yes, Congress. The good old days they are no more and what’s more they never were.

Three cheers to Maine Gov. Janet Mills and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for helping lead the way to a better future. It’s about time.

David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary and suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns. [email protected]

Comments are not available on this story.