"Where in the Constitution is there separation of church and state?" argued Christine O'Donnell, Delaware's tea party senatorial candidate, during a debate with her opponent recently.
Absurdity aside, O'Donnell isn't alone; by either ignorance or unapologetic disregard of the Constitution's First Amendment, millions of Americans, including many politicians, tread all over this intrinsically fundamental American tenet.
Another rudimentary premise of the Constitution, that all men and women are created equal, is similarly violated; too many flag-waving Americans must constantly relearn (or have yet to understand) this universal truth. Take, for instance, the uproar surrounding NPR analyst Juan Williams' recent firing. Had his comments about Muslims instead made reference to Asians, Hispanics, Orthodox Jews or Africans, who would doubt NPR's firm action?
Because of a growing boldness with respect to minority profiling, combined with religion's powerful encroachment on government, our nation's Capitol is indeed hamstrung by partisan gridlock. Meanwhile, the critical and constant tasks that enable a nation's prosperity (maintaining infrastructure, investing in research to support the manufacturing base, creating a smarter population through better education, securing our energy and environmental future via alternatives to coal and oil, reducing entitlements by helping society's dependents become contributors and, yes, regulating untrustworthy industries) have long gone under-attended.
For now, then, three things look certain: The rich will continue to get richer (in both money and power), everyone else will continue to descend the ladder and America will continue to lose ground. If more voters, however, could learn to keep religion out of politics, and likewise remember that all men and women are created equal, Washington just might rediscover the middle ground and begin working again.