By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Republicans gathering in midtown for their love-in at Madison Square Garden aren't rubbing shoulders with the majority of New Yorkers. They may not know the toll that gentrification, the lack of affordable housing and high-quality education, and the weak economy have taken on the working class and poor, on people of color, and on immigrants. So, from the South Bronx to East New York, here are some of those people whom the delegates and a worldwide TV audience did not see whooping it up for Bush and company. Here's what they say they would tell the president:
45, paralegal, Bronx
I'd show him the schools, the drug addicts, and the buildings that aren't up to par. There're mice here bigger than your hand running around in these streets. No one cares.
41, construction worker, Bronx
I work in seven buildings in the Bronx where the families have no gas in their homes. How do people feed their families?! You can't cook a meal on a hot plate. We live in a society where pizza arrives faster than the cops do.
32, cabdriver and security guard, East New York
I live dead in the ghetto. There's a lot of drug madness here, a lot of homelessness, abandoned buildings. I'm ready to go. The cost of living is too high. New York City is becoming just for the filthy rich. I work two jobs and I'm still broke.
29, artist, Fort Greene
I wouldn't want to hang out with the guy. I really, really don't want to. I don't like his policies, but I don't think he's responsible for that. To me, he's just a big puppet, honestly.
28, security guard, Bronx
I wouldn't show him anything. What's the point of looking around all the 'hoods of the city, of the country? Nothing's going to change. We have a billion-dollar mayor and nothing's getting done. What would the president do?
27, program coordinator, Bronx
Since I work in the South Bronx, I would make Bush sit and eat dinner with single moms on food stamps and victims of police brutality, and he can answer questions about why he locks up the majority of men and women from this neighborhood, as well as Queensbridge, the Lower East Side, and Harlem. Breakfast would be at the Spofford Juvenile Detention Center, and he could explain why it's overcrowded, underfed, and abusive. We would cruise along the Bronx River, and he could apologize to the one out of eight kids who have asthma and explain why there is so much industry and pollution in this particular low-income neighborhood. To leave it off, I would handcuff him at 125th so he can answer to all his friends in the 'hood why he ignores the war going on here in America to start a bullshit war in the Middle East. Lastly, I'd leave him in the Bronx just so he could learn what a pussy he really is.
24, bassist, Fort Greene
I think I'd take him to meet all my psuedo-revolutionary friends. You know, the ones with more smoke and alcohol in their brains than good ideas. He'd probably get a kick out of that!
29, teacher, Park Slope
I'd want him to look out of my window and see all the guys dealing. Drugs are a big problem around here. Frankly, I don't think he gives a shit about anyone.
34, carpenter, Bronx
Everything's more expensive in the poorer neighborhoods than in the more affluent ones. It's a double standard. The same thing you get for a quarter here you can get for a dime in Westchester.
28, student, Columbia University, Bronx
I would bring him to the grocery store with me and let him see how far my unemployment check goes. I would escort him to the public library and let him see the kids forming long lines just to spend an hour on the Internet.
26, political organizer, Williamsburg
I'd take him for a little tour and show him all the oil tanks near Greenpoint and Norman and the waste-treatment plant in Greenpoint. And I would show him the Williamsburg and Greenpoint firehouses that have been closed recently because he never came through with the $10 billion for first responders.
29, artist, Park Slope
I'd want him to know that there aren't enough opportunities out there, especially for black men. On Fourth Avenue, a lot of posters at the bodegas have anti-Bush slogans on them, and a lot of the small business owners are anti-Bush. I'd want him to see that.
62, cabdriver, Bed-Stuy
Bush has cut so many services to the poor, and they are the most affected. They aren't getting the services they need to survive. They forgot the small people.
20, a manager at a sporting goods store, Fort Greene
I'd show him the poor and impoverished. Just shove it in his face. There's like 18 percent unemployment herewhat are you doing about it? He's not gonna get re-elected, so it doesn't matter.
18, student at University of Vermont, Fort Greene
Maybe I'd take him down to the squatters in the L.E.S. . . . show him that things are not all right all the time. Nothing's being done about it. I'd like to see how he rationalizes these things.
34, unemployed, Crown Heights
People are coming into our country, taking our jobs, and everyone's unemployed. We have college diplomas and we can't get a job here. And now they're outsourcing to other countries. We're selling all our stuff to get foodwe can't get emergency food stamps. People who need help can't get it.
24, unemployed, Crown Heights
People are all too happy to hire foreigners because they work cheap. What happened to the surplus? I think Bush just ruined the surplus. Budget cuts make it hard to get a teaching job, and Bush claims to be for education.
46, entertainer, East New York
I'd show him the poor people begging for money. Someone's always asking me for a quarter. There's no housing for poor people. They'd rather provide housing for Iraqis than provide it for Americans.
29, writer, Prospect Heights
I'd show him how America lives. We don't live in mansions in Texas. People can't afford to buy meat for dinner. He seems so rich and so far removed from everyone else. I'd take him to C-Town and show him people bargain-shopping.
31, lawyer, Prospect Heights
I'd show him some of the schools in the poorer areas of Brooklyn, show him the standard of living in the poorer areas. In our neighborhoods, it seems like people are barely getting by, and there's a depressing atmosphere.
48, kindergarten teacher, Bronx
I'd show him the conditions of our streets, the conditions of our housing. I'd show him how children have no after-school programs or community programs to provide a safe haven. We have had a really hard time with lack of school supplies and after-school programs for the children. This administration has beensocially, economically, spirituallya total disaster.
40, MTA bus driver, Bronx
I'd show him all of the poor conditions that exist in the community. The vacant lots, the look of the children that have no place to go and have no way to spend their time constructively. I would show him the non-presence of the police on foot patrol. The school system is also really messed up, and these educators aren't telling the truth about everything.
23, entrepreneur, Bronx
I'd take him to the park and show him how messed up the parks are and how the kids have no place to go and how run-down the apartments are, compared to downtown, how the schools are messed up and the teachers are there just to get a check.
53, counselor, Board of Education, Bronx
I'd show him the corners, how we really live. The young black and Latino men who don't have jobs and do what they have to do to survive. The young brothers on the corners, victims of circumstance. They ask me about jobs, about trades. It's not like they're thugsthey're trying.
44, clerical supervisor, Bronx
The housing situation, the squalor we must live in, the dilapidation, the rats, the supermarkets where you can't get decent food. I'd show him the schools and show him how many children are really being left behind. Because of budget cuts, kids have no place to go, no art and music education. Hell, I'd show him a piece of my damn mind.
22, editor, Greenpoint
I would take President Bush to my hometown of Shoreham, New York, and I would show him the decommissioned Shoreham power plant and the national laboratory . . . and the high-voltage power lines . . . and then I would show him the cemeteries where my friends, neighbors, classmates, and relatives are buried who have died of cancer. I had five close girlfriends, and of three of their mothers, two died of breast cancer and one is a survivor. It's really not talked about, but it's an alarming number. Even in my high school, at least one kid a year in every class got some sort of strange cancer.
54, physician, Greenwich Village
I would show President Bush the facilities of NYU to make a point that his administration has reduced funding for student loans and has made it much more difficult for students to attend college, which is going to be devastating to the United States in the future.
23, recent college grad, Fort Greene
I would show President Bush all of the 35-hour-a-week jobs listed all over the place because people can't afford to pay their employees' health carethe jobs that should be full-time but aren't.
41, housekeeper, Bronx
I'd want him to see that the parks are not safe and that the kids are in danger. It's ridiculous in the neighborhood right now, drug dealers sitting on the corner and influencing kids to go in the wrong direction.
56, construction worker, Bronx
I'd show him the infestation of rodents in the neighborhood, endangering our children. He can give money to hurricane victims, but he can't help people out here. Also, the lack of affordable housing and health insurance. People can't afford any of these things.
51, homemaker, Bronx
I'd take him up to 181st and Crescent and show him the people out in the street, hanging out and being unproductive. They have nowhere to go, the schools need improvement. There's no hope.