It is well known by many citizens that big business and their wealthy profiteering owners practically run Washington DC. With legions of high-paid, very smart lobbyists, “contributions” and other help to get “their” representatives elected, We The People’s voices have been all but drowned out by the deafening sound of a large cash register constantly ringing up their private profits: CHA-CHING.

What may be worse than big money ruling DC is that many of the “movers and shakers” in the business sector, highly influential corporate executives, go directly from representing the “get richer now at any cost” crowd to influential positions in our government and vice versa.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas worked as an attorney for Monsanto for four years earlier in his remarkable career. However, unlike most practicing judges, he does not recuse himself from cases pertaining to Monsanto. We The People, his bosses, expect him to be as “objective as a judge,” but his record indicates that he supports his former bosses.

Recent U.S. legislation commonly known as the “Monsanto Protection Act” along with the perceived takeover of our species’ global food supply were reasons why two million people marched in protest against Monsanto in hundreds of rallies across the U.S. and in over 50 other nations on Saturday, May 25.

Former Vice-president Dick Cheney denied that he had any ties to the Halliburton Company after he left his position as its CEO in 2000. Halliburton collected a great deal of the U.S. taxpayer funds spent in Iraq while VP Cheney was in office. It is difficult for even the most naive among us to believe that he had no further ties to the company he actively ran during the lead-up to Gulf War Two.

Donald Rumsfeld was CEO of Searle (the company that asked the FDA for approval) when the chemical aspartame was finding its convoluted path into our bodies. Rumsfeld used his political and corporate clout to help get aspartame approved, despite many well-documented ills of the chemical, long before the “shock and awe” of the second U.S. invasion of Iraq took place under his leadership.

Elizabeth Fowler, formerly a high-powered executive with WellPoint, the largest medical insurance provider in the U.S., helped to draft and implement the Affordable Care Act before returning to the private sector.

These are just a few examples of the conflicts of interest which permeate our political system like holes in Swiss cheese. Our current electoral process is evidently ineffective at limiting such conflicts. It is not rocket science; it’s simple political science.

For meaningful change to occur citizens must care enough to email, call, sign petitions, participate in rallies and marches, vote after checking the facts, but most of all, be involved in the political process. Protests have proven effective many times in the history of the U.S., from the first Boston tea party to ending the U.S. war on the Vietnamese people. A good organization to start with is: http://www.citizensforethics.org/

With feedback, comments, progressive ideas or alternative perspectives, contact Orlando Martin at: mrm61@uw.edu