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By Tom Driscoll
Aug. 15, 2013 11:05 a.m.

The other day someone asked me, just as a part of some rocking chair on the porch kind of conversation, “if you think this Obamacare is ever gonna work.” This person I knew was of decidedly Conservative and Republican inclination. Fox News was a constant feed for him. Yet I also knew him as a considerate man who had asked me genuinely wanting hear things from my perspective. Ever the one for bold pronouncements, I announced that it would work out… and that it wouldn’t. There were parts that would accomplish good and others that would involve unintended consequence, that would call for reform of the reform. The day I hoped for, I said, was when they would stop calling it Obamacare —naming it thus the political football of the moment. I dreamed of the day they would simply recognize it as the current state of regulatory policy and public resource addressing access and quality of healthcare.
They don’t call Social Security “FDR-Care” anymore, if they ever did. Your occasional history buff might recall that it was a part of the ‘The New Deal’ —but even when Conservatives with a less than fond place for it in their hearts talk about wanting to reform the system they are now obligated to explain what they find wrong and what they mean to fix —and how. But for the extremists few try to argue that simply tearing down the entirety of the extant system is a reasonable goal for the public endeavor.
It was then that I came up with this idea about how to counteract the inanity of the persona bashing politics of personal destruction. What if we took away the names and the faces? Maybe even the brands? No more donkeys and elephants. We could still use our politics as entertainment. One can entertain an idea after all. But if we simply pitched our proposal and countered with critique that was anonymous in a way. We all know that doesn’t work so well in comment threads after news and opinion pieces online or blogs. But maybe we have the model backwards there, with the public faceless and the candidates on blatant display, shining like product. What if we made them the shadow figures and asked them to advance their causes only on the merit: sight unseen but substance examined?
I may have come up with a new format for future political debates. Something somewhere between ‘The Dating Game’ and ‘What’s My Line?’ —of course now I’m probably dating myself.

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