President Biden’s State of the Union Address represents much of America today, a meandering belief in big government that’s woefully short on economic coherence. Yet, the state of the union is pretty evident to most. The high inflation caused by obscene government spending and the skyrocketing gas prices could have been avoided. Sadly, those with lower incomes are left to suffer most, as they decide what essentials to forego on a weekly or even daily basis. On top of that, the nation’s cultural fabric is rapidly disintegrating as the citizenry no longer agrees on a shared American ethos.

Perhaps most depressing is the economic incoherence and the misguided belief government can cure our ills. Biden says he will fix inflation by doubling down on the inflationary policies of more and more government spending, this at a time when the U.S. recently surpassed $30 trillion in debt. “I have a better plan to fight inflation. Lower your costs, not your wages,” declared Biden. Immediately after that line, Biden advocated for protectionist policies, more spending proposals, and even price controls.

“From a collapsing southern border to record inflation that has now reached a 40-year high, rising crime rates to collapsing credibility within the international community, no matter where you turn, the consequences of President Biden’s failures are more visible than ever,” declared U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., in response to Biden.

Biden’s election mainly resulted from Donald Trump fatigue, yet his ambitious and profligate spending policies only wreak havoc on ordinary Americans. Instead of choosing to unite the country under a more moderate course, left-wing fervor became the rallying cry inside the D.C. bubble and for ideologues.

Biden, too, surrendered one of the nation’s greatest assets: the ability to secure energy independence. Forgoing more pipelines and oil production not only raises consumer prices but damages America’s national security. Hopefully, voters are waking up to the consequences of turning over energy policy decisions to environmental activists.

Another fiasco voters are unlikely to forget is that students were masked in schools over multiple academic years. This occurred despite an abundance of examples of unmasked lawmakers, celebrities and, at times, almost anybody else in our society. Of course, younger people in K-12 educational settings were less likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19. Still, they were merely victims to be sacrificed to the teachers’ unions and other statist bureaucrats. That’s a tall ask to simply ask parents to let that one go.

It was William F. Buckley who said, “Conservatism takes into account reality.” The reality of the situation is that even amidst the Biden disaster, merely shuffling the political deck chairs won’t ultimately cure our ills. While it appears Democrats will pay a tremendous political price for their ill-conceived policies and general overreach, other troubles persist.

Tech companies and universities are still championing censorship. Healthy family structures continue to erode, and the American dream is still unreachable for too many of our citizens. Traditional values and culture are openly mocked — if not already eviscerated — in the public square today.

At a speech to a group of Hillsdale College students at faculty before the recent CPAC event in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis reminded his audience of our current state: “Common culture is very important. What unites us as a people has to be a belief in the foundations of this country, otherwise it falls apart.”

How we answer that fundamental issue tells us a lot more going forward than even winning elections or at politics.

Ray Nothstine is Carolina Journal opinion editor and Second Amendment research fellow at the John Locke Foundation.