I suppose, like many in my age cohort (older generation X) I was a very early adopter of the Internet and later the Web and tend to have “old school” attitudes about many of these things.
I think of web pages in general as possessing two cosmetically similar (sometimes identical) things that serve different functions. One is links (<a> elements). The other is text spans styled the same as links, whose destinations are onclick handlers rather than URL’s. I’m actually overjoyed that someone wishes to use this concept for good rather than shady.
But still, I’m old enough to remember that the original idea behind CSS was that styling should be the prerogative of the audience, not the developers. If it were as simple as one of my browser settings is a master CSS template to go over every page I visit, mine would be something like
As for the blank target thing, I only ever follow links by clicking right mouse button, then select “open link in new tab”. It’s a grooved reflex with me, largely grooved by the stuff described elsewhere in the present comment. Nothing like pain to train the brain. Other grooved reflex is ALWAYS hovering any link/pseudolink (as the case may be) before (even left) clicking. But Facebook et al even spoof the title attribute to ≠ the href.