To help frame the healthcare debate, President Obama should look at these apps

Sep 18, 2009

As President Barack Obama strives to make his case for healthcare reform, he should not ignore the bits of political wisdom available for his hip pocket. The leader of the free world needs to ditch his BlackBerry to use the array of apps the iPhone offers to help even the most gifted of orators make more persuasive […]

As President Barack Obama strives to make his case for healthcare reform, he should not ignore the bits of political wisdom available for his hip pocket. The leader of the free world needs to ditch his BlackBerry to use the array of apps the iPhone offers to help even the most gifted of orators make more persuasive arguments. 

Conversely, the president’s detractors who think differently about healthcare reform can reboot their rebuttal with a few strategically selected apps. Despite minority status in both chambers of congress, republicans are finding their footing in this debate and are not sitting around playing solitaire (despite the scores of such app options available). 

Ever the pragmatist, President Obama should start with a proven winner and download Book Bites: How to Win Friends & Influence People. The classic Dale Carnegie book about achieving your goals through personal persuasion is one of a number iconic titles available in the “Book Bites” series. The 99-cent app provides quick, easy-to-navigate summaries of each chapter. Between media appearances or even while walking Bo at night, the president can revisit chapters 3.10 (An Appeal That Everybody Likes) and 3.12 (When Nothing Else Works, Try This) to try to get his way. 

If the former law school professor wants to dig a bit deeper, he can download Aristotle QuickQuotes. You don’t have to scroll far to read passages like “Change in all things is sweet” and “Hope is the dream of the waking man” from the ancient Greek philosopher. Despite the Greek translations, this simple 99-cent app clearly speaks the president’s language. The app can also remind him that “Well begun is half done.”

Of course, those who oppose Obama’s vision of healthcare reform and any expansion of government should remember that while many Americans appear to admire the president personally, support for his ideas is less clear. Accordingly, they can draw some wisdom from Benjamin Disraeli QuickQuotes. The father of British conservatism can remind them that “no government can be long secure without formidable opposition”. The app, which also contains a heart that is broken at the point of touch, also notes that  “a sophistical rhetorician , inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity” doesn’t necessarily speak for the masses. 

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Both sides of the debate, of course, cannot rely on lofty principals alone to implement anything. Fair Talk is a useful app to make sure his ideas from all sides of the aisle are consistent. The free app offers a tutorial that summarizes common reasoning mistakes and a multiple choice quiz that tests if an argument has fallacies. President Obama will particularly appreciate a scenario on the quiz that cites the merits of lowering the voting age to 16. 

In terms of tightening up debating mechanics, both sides should consult iDebate for some refresher points. While the president’s performance in last fall’s debates again John McCain showed that he is in a different league than the student debaters the app is targeted for, it wouldn’t hurt to pay more consideration to timing and understand how different people view debate paradigms. Anyone appreciative of structured political discourse will also enjoy iDebate’s nod to the Lincoln-Douglass debates from 1858. 

Many valid points are often lost or neglected during the back and forth of political arguments. While cable news shows will no doubt parse everything said from all principals in the debate, President Obama and his detractors can use Argument Organizer to jot down and categorize notes at any time. The free and simple app allows anyone to create multiple argument streams and then jot down categorized points when they come to mind. 

Cognizant that the Clintons’ efforts to reform healthcare failed miserably in 1994, president Obama and his advisors don’t want to make the same mistakes twice. To that end, the ReDo productivity library is an essential addition to his app library. With ReDo, Obama can check off what – if anything – worked during that last healthcare debate and isolate and expand on any new ideas that have traction. The republicans, who against all odds still have the wind at their back in this debate, are getting a solid return on their $1.99 per app investment and are glad they didn’t skimp out on the lite version or ReDo. 

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In any debate or conversation, it is a good idea to understand everything you can about your opponent. No matter what side of the aisle the president is addressing, he should be equipped with Congress+, which breaks down the biography, voting record, staff and even Twitter screen name of every elected official on capital hill. As the president is not afraid to spend money in order to pursue an agenda he believes in, I recommend that he shell out the $4.99 required for this app rather than paying 99 cents for the lite version. 

The president can even use Congress+  to send a lesson of civility to his screaming adversary from South Carolina.

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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of appoLearning and Appolicious Inc. In this capacity, he has sampled and evaluated thousands of iOS and Android applications. He also holds an M.A. in Education and Media Ecology from New York University.

Spirrison worked in concert with appoLearning Expert and Instructional Technology Specialist Leslie Morris while curating and evaluating educational applications.

A longtime media and technology commentator and executive, Spirrison is also a regular contributor to ABC News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg West and The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Spirrison is married and lives with his wife and young son in Chicago. As his son was born just weeks before the debut of the iPad, Spirrison takes his work home with him and regularly samples and enjoys a variety of educational applications for young children.

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