We live in the most terrifying moment since World War II. The pandemic is frightening. The coming recession promises to be the worst since the Great Depression. Climate change grows worse daily. All of the real problems facing our country which we have ignored or denied are growing even worse.

There’s no need to say much more about the coronavirus. We get accurate daily updates from the governors of New York and Illinois and the mayor of Chicago. The West Coast governors and California mayors are also doing a wonderful job. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for the president or Republican senators.

Again, sadly, the same combination of incompetence and self-destructive ideology which has made the coronavirus pandemic even more deadly is all the Republicans have to offer. As we all know by now, they don’t believe that the government should do anything much (some nonsense about: That government is best which governs least.)

And so, Trump and his people continue to do nothing. While failing to do anything about the pandemic and making everything worse, Trump’s people continue to dismantle the government and just hope we’re not looking. They are gutting clean air and water rules and defunding the World Health Organization, trying to weaken habeas corpus and enthusiastically engaging in voter suppression.

A new stimulus bill is stalled in the Senate, because Republican senators refuse to include help for hospitals and state governments. But they want to help the oil industry, which employs a fraction of 1 percent of American workers but gives huge political contributions to Republicans.

Climate change continues; not pausing for the pandemic. The next round of climate talks has been postponed. Brazil continues to destroy the rainforest, the Australian forest fires have stopped but the drought continues, and California is bracing for another dangerous fire season.

In the meantime, our country’s long history of racism guarantees that a higher percentage of African Americans will contact the coronavirus and more blacks than whites will die. The poor, especially people of color, will not have the ability to participate in the new electronic educational lessons. The city of Chicago is at least trying to distribute free computers.

We’re seeing what happens during the pandemic when people don’t have adequate health insurance, sick days or paid leave, and a living wage. Our prisons are filled with victims of “lock‘em up and throw away the key,” and refugee centers are filled with desperate people fleeing dictators, gangs and climate change.

Both groups need our compassion, not our hate, and they need to be released into the community and reunited with their families before the pandemic strikes these facilities.

Much of it comes down to leadership. In Washington, the Republicans don’t care about their fellow citizens. Let them die or starve. There’re only interested in taking care of the wealthy.

Congressional Democrats are fighting a rear-guard action, trying to at least protect the most vulnerable. And the nation is lucky to have Democratic governors and mayors doing their best.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in a New York Times op-ed piece, says Big Business will not protect workers. Among other ideas, she lays out a plan for a Workers Bill of Rights.

Joe Biden, in another New York Times op-ed, emphasizes the importance of more testing and continuance of social distancing, saying health and economic issues are not separate. He ends by saying, “And I would focus like a laser on the racial disparities in Covid-19 cases.”

We need to listen to experts, such as Dr. Fauci, and to scientists. And we need to elect real leaders.

Chuck and Pat Wemstrom live in rural Mount Carroll. Reach them at patandchuck@gmail.com.