The number one past time of American citizenry - after watching TV - is shopping. Hence the genius of the Home Shopping Network. In suburban America, malls are where we congregate; malls are where we spend time. In cities, ever more homogeneous shops and chains attract our attention.
But this defining principle of American citizenry has not always been as such. The founding colonists, while certainly coming to make a better life for themselves, did not see the final outcome of their efforts as being the creation of a vast market. It wasn't until the turn of the century that consumption became a defining principle and activity, and a new definition of responsible citizenry. With it came a redefinition of freedom, culminating in the 1959 Nixon/Kruschev "Kitchen Debate".