What is an American? People at Political Conventions Weigh In 

"With all of the things that we offer, we still need to do a better job of protecting our most vulnerable constituencies"

We've been asking convention-goers at both the Republican and Democratic national conventions what may seem like a simple question: What does it mean to be an American?

But the responses we've gotten? They're anything but simple.

Here's a selection of answers that stood out to us.

click to enlarge Maria Quyinones-Sanchez - MARIA MURRIEL, PRI'S THE WORLD
  • Maria Murriel, PRI's The World
  • Maria Quyinones-Sanchez

1. Maria Quiñones-Sanchez, the first Latina councilwoman in Philadelphia, at the DNC

"Being an American is understanding our own hypocrisy of what we preach upon the world. Being an American knows that we are the greatest nation in the world, but we could be greater, we could be better. And that with all of the things that we offer, we still need to do a better job of protecting our most vulnerable constituencies. So being an American is about understanding the potential and the promise, and understanding that we’re still not there. That we still need to do a better job."

2. Kani Xulam, from Washington, DC, at the RNC

"For a Kurd, it means to be free. It means to be not looking over your shoulder. It means to enjoy life fully. It means naming your child with a name that you like. It means unleashing your potential, becoming anyone you can become."

3. Nikki Coville, from Albany, NY, at the DNC

“To have your rights, which were provided to you by your forefathers many, many years ago. To be able to walk down the street without having to worry about something bad happening.” 4. Trump protester from Tampa, Fla., at the RNC

“It should mean that every person is free of oppression and police brutality. [It means] having the ability to raise our children in a way that guarantees a better future. Right now we don’t see that.”

click to enlarge Michelle Beckmann - MARIA MURRIEL, PRI'S THE WORLD
  • Maria Murriel, PRI's The World
  • Michelle Beckmann

5. Michele Beckmann, from Washington state, at the RNC

“It means freedom. It means being able to abide by our Constitution and have the freedom to assemble, the freedom of speech, the freedom to associate, the freedom of owning a firearm.”

6. Mike Patrick, from Ohio, at the RNC

“Diversity. Appreciating diverse cultures, ways of life … It’s a stew of different cultures coming together, which is really what makes it great. America is great. It doesn’t need to be great again.”

7. Xander Almeida, from Oregon, at the RNC

“I value the fact that I’m allowed to speak my mind. I value the fact that this country allows you to defend yourself. Most other countries don’t allow you to do that. You have to go and depend on the government for that, and I don’t think you should have to depend on the government for that. All of that makes it beautiful to be an American.”

8. Katrina White, from Albany, NY, at the DNC

“To be an American is to be a role model. We have an advantage that a lot of people don’t. Our economy is the largest in the world. I think we have a responsibility.”

click to enlarge 11-year-old Holden Krapes - MARIA MURRIEL, PRI'S THE WORLD
  • Maria Murriel, PRI's The World
  • 11-year-old Holden Krapes

9. Bomexi Iztaccihuatl Luna, from New York, at the DNC

"Puerto Rico is a colony of the US. And to me, this [United States of] America does not exist. America is a lot bigger than the United States. A lot bigger. We have Canada, we have Mexico, we have South America of course. So they cannot put the name of America in their pocket and continue on walking. That’s false. Completely false and ridiculous."

10. Holden Krapes, from Ohio, at the RNC

“It means that we have the right to choose whoever we want to be president. But it also means that you also have the right to protest against what other people might think, as long as it’s a peaceful protest.”

To see the rest of the answers to "What does it mean to be an American?" follow us on Instagram.

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