It’s one thing for Gov. Paul LePage to try to tempt Democrats into a game of political nah-nah-nah-boo-boo, but it’s something much more politically dangerous when the governor draws the ire of the stroller brigade.
No force is more powerful in politics than moms.
Long before there was a tea party, there were soccer moms, suburban moms, super moms, career moms, mama grizzlies, you-name-it-moms.
Moms bring together the power of the baby the politicians love to kiss and the knowledge that every major figure, from sports superstar to politician, always thanks mom first.
It’s always, “Hi, Mom!” (I’m still holding out hope for an Olympic soccer superstar to score the winning goal against Brazil and frame up the TV camera and thank Dad — and specifically me.)
With good reason: Mom knows best. Listen to your mom. I’m telling Mom.
From the earliest day, we know who the boss is.
And besides, every politician, no matter how reptilian they may seem, still had a mom who helped to bring them into the world. They aren’t hatched. Only the plots are.
When you cross moms — especially on a straightforward, no-brainer of an issue — you better watch out.
LePage better watch out.
Maine moms, along with other environmentally conscious consumers and public health advocates, want bisphenol-A, BPA for short, removed from baby food jars.
The science is clear. BPA is dangerous for children.
The chemical has been linked to cancer, learning disabilities, early puberty in girls and other serious health problems. Even low levels of the substance can cause serious harm, particularly to young children.
For some strange reason, the governor has had a love affair with the chemical, which led to one of his earliest gaffs. Forever, he will carry the title of “Little Beards” LePage. In comments off the cuff, LePage demonstrated that despite his opposition to a BPA ban, he hadn’t taken the time to understand the issue and didn’t truly grasp the dangers posed.
In 2011, the governor opposed eliminating BPA from sippy cups and bottles.
The Legislature then voted, 145-3, to support a phase-out of BPA in certain food containers, and many food companies concerned about the welfare of their customers have already started to phase the chemical out of their packaging.
Proving that some lessons are never really learned, this year the governor is opposing a citizen’s effort before the Board of Environmental Protection to further restrict the dangerous chemical by banning it in baby food containers.
Earlier this month, LePage’s Department of Environmental Protection testified against the new protections, despite presenting evidence that BPA is dangerous to kids and that kids are exposed to it through food containers.
According to the BDN, a spokesperson for the environmental protection department said the department testified against the BPA ban, in part, because it’s difficult to define toddler food.
Here’s a simple working definition: Toddler food is food a toddler is likely to eat. When in doubt, how about we just keep the harmful chemical out of all food — you know, just to be safe.
The Board of Environmental Protection will meet on Jan. 17 to discuss the proposed ban and could take a vote as early as Jan. 24. The BEP decision would then go to the Legislature for review.
The facts around BPA are pretty clear.
Even low exposure can hurt kids. Food from containers with BPA is the way many kids are exposed to the chemical, and there are better alternatives that aren’t as dangerous.
The Maine Medical Association and the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics support removing BPA from baby food and toddler containers.
It’s the right thing to do.
But it’s also politically smart. There’s a bunch of soccer moms who are ready to turn into mama grizzlies when it comes to their cubs.
They’re a force for sure.
Maybe LePage feels confident rejecting science and even his own department’s analysis.
But if he’s smart – if we’re all smart – he’ll do what moms say. Otherwise he might find himself in a permanent time out from the Blaine House.