Resulting from a collaboration between The Atlantic Monthly magazine and the New America Foundation, The Real State of the Union features 18 original essays on the most important facets of our national well-being. Written by many of our nation's most insightful observers, the essays provide an objective and penetrating analysis of the most critical challenges facing America as well as innovative solutions to many of them. The State of the Union Address is among the nation's oldest rituals, but one that has deviated from its original purpose: Rather than a candid assessment of the country or a meaningful self-evaluation by the current administration, it has become a political spectacle marked by self-congratulation and spin. The Real State of the Union seeks to turn an empty exercise into a more meaningful national dialogue about the social, political, and economic health of our country. Rejecting the political correctness of both parties, this volume tells the American public what it needs to know about the real problems that plague the country and why the political solutions that are offered too often fail to address the real nature of those problems.