Which path will our great country take?

That of a civilized society or a totalitarian state?

The author, a Chico resident, is a Chico State alum and former small-business owner.

We are at an extraordinary time in America’s history. We’ve come to a “fork in the road,” if you will. Our country is being tasked to make a moral decision on which path we are going to forge for future generations: remain a free republic, a compassionate nation, a civilized society—or, choose the path to a totalitarian state.

In a free society, the rule of law is nondiscriminatory in its application. In an authoritarian society, the judicial system is used by its leader as a means of reward or retaliation. We are witnessing with great concern that President Trump is using the power of his office to influence the courts over cases involving past business associates or current political supporters and donors.

To paraphrase The New York Times’ editorial board: Donald Trump has always perceived that the law is something to take advantage of, to use for personal fortune and fame—conspiring with his father to violate federal fair-housing laws in order to keep black renters out of their apartment buildings, using smoke and mirrors with his tax returns.

Trump mocks the law with his sexual assaults on women, his “university” con job, paying off a mistress on the eve of the presidential election, running his global business empire out of the White House. And the crème de la crème: thwarting the constitutionally mandated will of Congress by using foreign aid to advance his re-election.

Mr. Trump sees the law as just another set of rules to be bent, if not broken. He has declared himself to be our nation’s chief law enforcement officer and has tasked his attorney general to do the following: initiate investigations into political adversaries, past and present; take control of any and all Department of Justice-associated investigations into the president; interfere with ongoing legal proceedings involving friends and donors; and subvert court rulings if necessary.

Richard Nixon infamously declared, “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” Trump believes this to his core. Do you?