The world of politics moves through predictable cycles. We’ve just concluded the post-election phase, most notable for its blessed silence. It’s a time when the weary public happily turns its attention to the holidays.

Then comes January, when people still don’t care about politics but politicians are full of new stirrings, bold pronouncements and what looks remarkably like a continuation of the previous fall’s campaign. This is a phase usually marked by grand speeches and words like “mandate” and “core values.”

Most of us couldn’t care less. We’re still recovering from the colds that invariably arrive with the holiday presents. We’re grumbling about all the layers we have to put on, or are enthralled once again with the New England Patriots.

I have the highest admiration for my fellow columnists who can push on during these times, talking about weighty issues like politics and policy. The best I can do is to ease my way gently into the conversation about serious things. Here’s a look out the frosted window to the year ahead:

PROGNOSTICATIONS

The economy will continue to strengthen, primarily because it fell so far that up is the only remaining direction.

Maine’s economy will, of course, continue to be the poor cousin of the rest of New England, and most of us will accept that as divine fate.

The uneven distribution of income in America – now close to Depression levels – will move us closer to the kind of political and economic meltdown we experienced in the 1930s. It is a ticking time bomb for the country.

Wall Street investors and billionaires will continue to skim off most of the benefits from an expanding economy, while middle-class and working-classwages will remain flat.

The political allies of those billionaires will continue to skillfully deflect the public’s rising frustration about economic fairness, blaming government and liberals.

Income inequality will emerge as the central issue of the run-up to the 2016 national elections, with Elizabeth Warren leading the way. Hillary Clinton will absorb much of Warren’s populist messaging during the primary, whether Warren runs or not.

The new and improved Paul LePage will shed some of the discipline he showed during the campaign, mostly through misunderstanding that being the best of three imperfect candidates is not the same as a mandate.

LePage will nonetheless continue to surprise observers with how attuned he is to the frustration of many working Mainers, and how they feel about the economy, government spending and Democratic solutions.

Republicans who blamed Obama for the recession will now give themselves credit for the recovery, even though Congress has done nothing of substance in years.

Democrats in Maine, befuddled by LePage’s victory, will again attribute all their recent defeats to mechanics and timing, and continue to lose blue-collar voters removed from Portland and the coast.

FUN FACTS

Ninety-seven percent of the world’s scientists are in agreement on climate change. Most of the remaining 3 percent are beneficiaries of Big Oil. Senate Republican leaders nonetheless call climate change a hoax. Fifty percent of Americans still aren’t sure.

The average incomes of America’s middle class, measured in constant dollars, have been virtually flat since the mid-1960s. For the top 5 percent of Americans, during the same time, incomes have doubled.

Maine receives as much solar energy as the Mediterranean regions of France. While we’re regularly asked to subsidize new gas lines, Maine is the only New England state that doesn’t provide tax credits for residential solar installations.

PET PEEVES

Most people believe that pet peeves – those annoying black flies of our daily lives – are best dealt with through the medicinal tonic of stoic silence. The problem is that small frustrations, when crowded together in a tightly sealed jar, too often produce spontaneously explosions.

As Ben Franklin used to say, an occasional venting is, therefore, a good thing. Here are some of my favorites:

 Laugh tracks for sitcoms: If it’s funny, why do you need taped “spontaneous” crowd laughter?

 Woofer cars: Nobody within a block can avoid them, which, of course, is the point. Why not just duct tape a billboard to the car’s roof saying “Look at me, please!”?

 MPBN’s long roster of local call letters: What bureaucrat or marketing genius makes them assault us throughout the day with this boring list?

 The owners of yippy dogs: I love dogs, but highly energetic ones shouldn’t be kept indoors or in cages until they’re frothing.

 Kids in radio ads who are really adults talking through their noses, while trying to sound like they just inhaled helium: Don’t they think we know what kids sound like?

OK. I feel better now. Go Pats!

Alan Caron is a partner in the strategic consulting firm of Caron and Egan. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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