that all men are created equal;"
Note: Franklin's contribution to this line was to strike out Jefferson's term "sacred" and replace it with the term "self-evident." Franklin did not want anything to be held sacred because someone had said it was so. Before he held anything sacred, Franklin wanted to be able to see it and know it. In Franklin's mind and world, if you did not know, on your own, the truth of human rights, you had yet to get with the human program.
Nevermind America's blinding monetary, material and military "wealth." To have lost our grasp of fairness and equality can be taken as a sure indication of America's failure on the grandest scale of all, i.e., the equitable distribution of national wealth among its citizens. For that, we are in debt to what we now know to be religious Republican crony capitalism and its post-WWII spiral to dominion.
Religious capitalism (aka "compassionate" conservatism) does not care a whit about the values upon which American democracy was built, nor does it care about the people for whom democracy was established. Its supporters care only about maintaining the greed-driven corporate system that has made them wealthy, and the self-righteous religiosity that has justified their wealth and their control. American capitalism has, since its late 1780s birth from Tory-British mercantilism, masked its greed and lust for power with what is "good" for America, in monetary terms.
In Jefferson's world view, where God is on the human inside, in the "head and heart" of every person, we each have our own personal relationships with God (even if we don't believe in supernatural gods). We each have a God-given right and responsibility to make our views known, to say what we believe to be true as individual citizens. We each have a God-given right and responsibility to take our views into the public arena and voting booth.
As Jefferson knew full well in his own times, the post-Newtonian deductive revolution had changed everything. It had not changed the fact of religion but it provided science with a whole new approach to thinking about the world and how the world works. It had revitalized talk of democracy and provided a methodological approach to human truth that transcended the static knowledge beneath all cultural extrem"isms" (Science and the Fundamentalist "Isms," Jefferson's Eyes, 2003 - www.jeffersonseyes.com).
The core problem today in America is that many people take refuge in the status quo, many people don't' know what to think, many people don't know what to believe, and many people end with no particular views of their own outside of political party lines. This is a reflection of both compromised liberal leadership and compromising conservative leadership in both political parties, the former restrained to political correctness and the latter bent on maintaining its dominion through divisiveness and fabrication.
We end, as a people, having only divisive grasps of reality, many people choosing to live in a world of "liberal" or "conservative" making, all of which leaves very little room for honesty and fairness and equality in individual thought.
Inequality in America
In America, we are not equal in monetary terms. In half a century of dominion, capitalism has created the largest gap between "haves" and "have nots" in human history. The poor are as poor as ever and the rich are filthy rich. The entire neoconservative fabrication rests on the assumption that some people's contributions (especially those who do not work for a living) are worth literally thousands of times more than most people's contributions. No one would really believe this to be true, in light of the short-sighted and failed leadership of businessmen the likes of George W. Bush, Kenneth Lay and Tom DeLay.
In America, we are not equal in material terms. Homelessness has appended itself to poverty for decades and millions upon millions of Americans are left behind every year. In half a century, for all its big talk, capitalism has not found a realistic way to help those on the bottom, and the reason is clear. Capitalism is designed from the top down such that the top is allowed to thrive at the expense of the bottom. Religious capitalism, by any other name, is religious colonialism and religious imperialism in a business suit.
Equality in America
In America, we are not equal in monetary and material terms. We are, in fact, egregiously unequal. This outcome was never part of Jefferson's intentions. At the same time, monetary and material equality was never part of Jefferson's intentions either.