“Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.”
This quote is a paraphrasing of 18th century Scottish philosopher Andrew Fletcher, and it points to a great truth about all human society: we are moved by stories. The culture shapers in American life are therefore concentrated in the two cities where storytelling is a primary export. The first is Los Angeles, which dominates entertainment, and the second is New York, which is a close second in entertainment, but is also the epicenter of journalism.
Not far behind is the academic community and politicians, who influence culture behind the scenes. Notable business men and ministers surface from time to time.
Culture is important because it holds sway over how we view our role in the world, and what type of decisions are good and wise, or not. This affects our political system, because wherever we cannot govern our own behavior to just ends, laws must do so for us. It affects our economic system, because a foundation of trust is necessary for trade. In other words, a vicious society cannot be a free society. Before we can concern ourselves with the latter, we must keep watch that our culture is one in which human dignity, charity and rule of law are strong.