Whenever discussions of American values arise in political discourse, there are certain phrases that have become synonymous with the very ideological existence of our nation. Words such as liberty and democracy. Phrases such as “the pursuit of happiness” and “created equal” have a weight and meaning that transcend from the mundane verbiage of a particular era to the timeless weight of American identity.

Tethered to these words are deeper precepts. The principle that we are endowed by our Creator with rights that government cannot deny. The notion that the highest leaders in Washington, D.C., are still only servants of the people, and the people’s Constitution. These are values to live by, concepts to govern from, ideas to die for-and many have. They are words grounded in the truth.

Truth brings timelessness, because truth never changes. It does not bend to power and it is not voided by weakness. The righteousness of the American experiment was equally valid when the capital was burned by an invader in 1812 and American power hung by a thread, as it was when her nearly invincible armies liberated the European continent unchallenged in power more than 100 years later. Truth has presided over the course of our country’s history, and adherence to it has often been led from great leaders whose names ring in the annals of our history.

In our own prosperous, noisy and seemingly rudderless political age, the clamor of America’s national conversation has centered on opposition to the political opponents and policies of the other side rather than an allegiance to that set of values that will outlive our own lives and that lived through and beyond those who came before us. In these times the founding ideas are talk show attack phrases or court-ignored anachronisms.

That supreme founding principle of truth has been receding from national governance, now reaching an astonishing ebb tide. Our Republic is entering a dark time of social discourse, one in which punditry has transcended debate; where expressing opinions has begun to outweigh reporting the facts; and one where the acquisition and maintenance of political power has begun to supersede considerations of why political power is bestowed in the first place.

The people send their elected representatives to the nation’s capital not so they can achieve career aspirations, reward their donor lists and enrich their own portfolio of interests. Rather so the leaders will “promote the general welfare” and “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” It is a task that can only be done with the founding principles in mind; acting in and for the truth above power, above personalities and above party.

We have entered for only the fourth time in American history a time of impeachment inquiry. It is a solemn process that has twice impeached chief executives and on a third occasion forced a resignation in disgrace. Where this fourth investigation shall end is not yet clear.

Yet there should be only one overriding mandate from the people to their leaders: do not “defeat” a president and do not “save" a President; simply find the truth and act accordingly.

The inquiry fundamentally requires two things to be hypothetically assured: that Democrats permit President Trump’s retention of the White House should the facts prove him innocent, and that Republicans vote for his conviction and perhaps even removal should the facts show him guilty.

Now is the time for leaders of both sides to treat this process with the weight it is due. This is not a partisan question. This is not a made-for-television stunt. This is a supreme question of fact to determine the appropriate verdict for or against the leader of the free world.

Character is revealed in times of crisis. May this time of crisis reveal a national character of truth, an affirmation of the founding belief in the dignity of the people and the responsibility of their leaders to honor a tradition handed down from those who lived and died, that we might be free, and through us, the rest of the world as well. One day, this too will be history; may it record that right had been done.

Garrison Moratto has a bachelor of science degree in government: public administration from Liberty University and is a graduate student of international affairs.