10/28/2010 11:31 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Read Before You Vote

As we wind closer to the date of the midterm elections, our friends, relatives and some brave co-workers are going to bombard us with reading lists.

So I decided to bite the bullet and curate an idiosyncratic group of thoughtful and distinguished individuals to choose one substantive, surprising, and provocative article that anyone and everyone should read before the election.

These participants were asked to write a short remark about why their choice is important. I suggested that the topic be obvious or obscure, ranging from international, federal and local; religion, science, art, more.

Often in disagreement, one theme emerged: money. Where does the money come from, where does it go, how does it get lost, how much should we have, how much should government have, does it help or hurt us to think, live, and love? Will it kill us and will we ever be making any honestly again?

So, take a look at this list.

No endorsements, no op-eds. There's no article which specifically ties the results of the midterm elections to results in Sudan. The state of our state is explored and detailed. Maybe it will help.

Shonali Bhowmik, a founder of the comedy troupe Variety Shac, leader of the indie rock band Tigers and Monkeys, and an attorney in her spare time. This is a ten article series on what are the possible causes of what economist Paul Krugman calls the "Great Divergence" of the United States. This 30-year trend is what Noah says could turn our nation into a "banana republic." Yes, how horrible would that be? - "The United States of Inequality" by Timothy Noah

Robert MacFarlane, former National Security Advisor and President MacFarlane Associates
This article frames with precision the competing visions of the American political-economy being argued in our country today. - "America's new culture war: Free enterprise vs. government control" By Arthur C. Brooks

Jamie Raskin, professor of constitutional law at American University's Washington College of Law and a Democratic State Senator in Maryland representing Silver Spring and Takoma Park. This essay puts the lie to the current propaganda about deficits that has, alas, overtaken both parties. he problem with the staggering deficits built up by Bush and company for eight years was that they were built on absolutewaste and destruction -- corporate giveaways, tax breaks for the rich, and trillion-dollar wars that weaken our economy, people and standing in the world. But if we don't have massive public reinvestment in our infrastructure and society today, where will the money come from? This article is indispensable and reminds you of Keynes 101. - "In Defense of Deficits" by James K. Galbraith

Theodore H. Frank, President and founder of the Center for Class Action Fairness and an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute Center for Legal Policy
When humanitarian organizations provide aid in response to atrocities, it creates the incentive for more atrocities -- and it's far from clear that the humanitarians aren't making things worse. - Philip Gourevitch, A Critic at Large, - "Alms Dealers," The New Yorker, October 11, 2010

Vernon Reid, founder LIving Color (band) and composer
Right now there's an obsession about ideological purity and we're talking about the intentions of the Framers of the Constitution. It's astounding that the Tea Party is called the Tea Party, when the original Boston Tea Partiers disguised themselves as Native American Indians. It's an aspect of discourse, and I recommend to anyone the blog - "The Authenticity Hoax" which responds to visceral reactions I have to hypocrisy.

Khadijah Britton, Founder,
We destroyed the Fourth Estate of journalism by feeding into the maxim that "evil is always more interesting than good." This article explores how that trend is ruining our country's politics, and introduces us to the players involved in this demise. - "Chasing Fox" by Gabriel Sherman October 3, 2010 in New York Magazine.

Christopher Saunders, Painter
A clear look at our deficits, where they come from and what they will do. - "Critics Still Wrong on What's Driving Deficits in Coming Years"

Jeff Hauser -- A versatile longtime progressive DC political operative and a lawyer (but actually a good guy!), Jeff Hauser has worked in both electoral and legislative politics since running one of the first liberal blogs.

As McKibben, a tireless advocate for heeding the scientific consensus that global warming is real, caused by humanity, and must be addressed urgently to prevent global catastrophe, notes, "American conservatism has reached a near-unanimous position, and that position is: pay no attention to all those scientists." - "Hot Mess: Why Are Conservatives So Radical About Climate?" by Bill McKibben

Mel Duncan, Special Projects Director, NonviolentPeaceforce
The high tech world has absorbed the banality of evil. Remote operators sitting in Virginia and Nevada maneuver joy sticks to fire missiles frompredator drones and watch on HDTV as people die in far off lands. - "The Predator War" by Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, Oct. 26, 2009

Carl Elliot, Professor, Center for Bioethics, University of Minnesota Medical School
Say what you will about Hunter S. Thompson, the man could smell a phony from a mile away. Disillusioned voters ought to read Thompson on Nixon in 1968, just as a reminder of how bad the alternative can be - "Presenting: The Richard Nixon Doll (Overhauled 1968 Model)" by Hunter S.Thompson

Matthew Kohn, filmmaker, "Untitled Sudan Reconciliation Film"
This article asks if Barack Obama is the James Buchanan of climate change
"As The World Burns" by by Ryan Lizza October 11, 2010 in The New Yorker