For only the third time in America’s history, members of the U.S. Senate are hearing an impeachment case against the president of the United States. Yet with the weight of significance the action carries, people don’t seem to be paying much attention to the hearing on Capitol Hill.

A large part of the indifference can be attributed to the assured outcome that President Donald Trump will retain his office. Even if a few Republicans were to vote for impeachment, the number of votes necessary to remove the president will not be cast.

There also is another trial going on, one that could carry far more significant long-term ramifications for Americans.

The impeachment proceedings also focus on Congress itself and whether the American people continue to trust the institution that governs it.

As opposing sides lay out their evidence against or in support of the president, Americans will decide whether the whole episode has been a political sham or an honest attempt to preserve the integrity of the office of the president.

People can have an honest difference in opinion whether President Trump’s actions rise to the level of an abuse of his position. The office of U.S. president carries incredible power. It must be used for the betterment of the nation. If the public’s trust in that office is lost, then the United States becomes no different than countries around the world that claim to be democracies, but operate only for the benefit of a few.

If the information presented during the impeachment hearings are seen as only a political ploy by one party against another, Americans will continue to lose trust in those who govern them. If the evidence is seen as credible — even if President Trump ultimately retains his office — it will help retain people’s faith in Congress and its role as a separate branch of government.

The key to all of this is for people to do their own thinking. Too many allow the talking heads shape their opinions without verifying what’s being presented as “fact.” The “experts” on television, radio and social media all have a goal — and often the truth isn’t involved. They will say what they have to say to sway others to their side, with accuracy often the victim.

Impeachment is serious business. It should not be left to political pundits to define. Facts are facts. They can be proven or not. If those who push falsehoods win, we all lose.

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