“We are not the most powerful nation in the world because of our aircraft carriers, our economy, or our seat at the United Nations Security Council. We are the most powerful nation in the world because we try to be the good guys. We are the most powerful nation in the world because our ideals of universal freedom and equality have been backed up by our belief that we were champions of justice, the protectors of the less fortunate.

“But, if we don’t care about our values, if we don’t care about duty and honor, if we don’t help the weak and stand up against oppression and injustice…

“If our promises are meaningless, how will our allies ever trust us? If we can’t have faith in our nation’s principles, why would the men and women of this nation join the military? And if they don’t join, who will protect us? If we are not the champions of the good and the right, then who will follow us? And if no one follows us — where will the world end up?”

These are not the words of a politician or an excerpt from a sermon by a liberal preacher.

No, these are the words of retired Admiral William McRaven from an op-ed piece he wrote for the New York Times last week about the threat Donald Trump poses to our nation.

Having returned from two celebrations, a command ceremony for a storied Army unit in which one general officer passed authority to another, the other an annual gala for the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) Society that recognizes past and present members of the intelligence and Special Operations community for their heroism and sacrifice to the nation, McRaven said of the men and women being recognized:

“These men and women, of all political persuasions, have seen assaults on our institutions: on the intelligence and law enforcement community, the State Department and the press. They have seen our leaders stand beside despots and strongmen, preferring their government narrative to our own. They have seen us abandon our allies and have heard the shouts of betrayal from the battlefield.”

He went on to say that after the ceremonies a retired four-star general grabbed his arm, shook him, and said, “I don’t like the Democrats, but Trump is destroying the Republic!”

Five simple words summarize the threat and crisis our nation is in: “Trump is destroying the Republic.”

Why would a retired general say that? Why would anyone say it? Well, for starters, it’s true, for the reason Admiral McRaven gave. Donald Trump is assaulting the values that once defined American ideals.

It is easy to overlook the genius of our founders in realizing that common core values could unite them in spite of the profound differences between them regarding religious, political, and social beliefs.

What is more, chief among those values all of them affirmed was personal integrity. They could not have written the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, or the Constitution had they not trusted one another’s integrity, trusted one another’s personal decency.

They knew that what makes democracy work is the integrity of those serving as government leaders; that what makes a society work is the integrity of its citizens to hold themselves and their leaders accountable for those values.

Maintaining our national values is the responsibility of every generation of Americans, one that is especially critical today because our own President is attacking those values in every way he can.

We have a President who has no personal integrity, he has no common decency, no moral compass guiding his words and actions.

This is what Trump’s impeachment and conviction are about – saving our national values for future Americans. This is history in the making and we will determine how it is written.

When that history is written, one of the things it will surely say is that part of Trump’s appeal was that he convinced some people that he could make America great again.

It will also say that the irony of that claim was the fact that Trump’s presidency turned out to be the reason America’s greatness did need to be reclaimed, and that, I can only hope, its ignominious ending was the key to it happening.