June 29, 2017

As America celebrates the Fourth with fireworks and barbeques, we take a closer look at the ideals that have shaped our country.

First under our microscope: the deeply ingrained belief that a democracy is the best way to run a government. Studies have shown that most people know very little about the policies and candidates on the ballot. What would happen if we made voting a privilege for the informed few? Political philosopher Jason Brennan makes a case against democracy as we know it.

Then, have you ever wondered how the chocolate chip cookie came to be? We have the scoop on how the Toll House cookie became so popular in the 1930s, and how it has maintained its role as the great American dessert.

Next up, journalist Robert Kaplan traveled the country to learn how geography has shaped who we are. He found struggling towns dotting the American heartland, punctuated by a few gleaming centers of power.

Finally, if you’re searching for the American dream, you might want to look North. Scott Gilmore believes that, though the American Dream is still alive and well, it’s moved to Canada. Why is America no longer a land of dreams -- and what can be done to fix it?

America, Canada, Scott Gilmore, Robert Kaplan, Toll House Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Culture, Jason Brennan, pri, WGBH, Kara Miller

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