I keep hearing this really bizarre argument from Tucker Carlson that goes something like this: “‘Democracy’ is an abstract concept. It’s not possible to ‘attack’ an abstract concept. Therefore, Russia didn’t ‘attack’ our democracy.” This argument is deeply strange on several levels. But before I continue, I want to say that my purpose in this post is not to argue about whether the Russians tried to interfere with the election, or whether they were successful. I’m only looking at the claim from Carlson that you can’t “attack” a “democracy.”
At its core, Carlson’s argument is, at best, a pointless semantic argument. Everyone knows what the words “Russia attacked our democracy” mean in this context: that Russia tried to interfere with the election in such a way as to corrupt the outcome. So suppose someone were to say to Carlson: “Russia tried to interfere with the election in order to corrupt the outcome.” I’m assuming that, while he may argue with the factual claim, he wouldn’t say that the statement is incoherent or represents something impossible. So, now, suppose we change that statement around a bit to say: “Russia tried to interfere with our democracy.” So I’m just substituting “the election” with the words “our democracy.” Again, I don’t think anything changes, as “our democracy” doesn’t suddenly change the statement into something hopelessly abstract. “Our democracy” is just a stand in for the very concrete object “the election.” And it seems perfectly reasonable to say that “the election” is part of “our democracy,” such that if you interfere with the former, you’re interfering with the latter.
Finally, suppose I change the statement to read “Russia attacked our democracy,” where I simply changed the words “interfered with” into “attacked.” Again, this in no way makes the statement hopelessly abstract, and the words are comprehensible and make perfect sense. If a party “interferes with” a democratic election in such a way as would corrupt the legitimacy of that election, it’s perfectly reasonable to say that the party “attacked” the election, and therefore, the democracy.
Carlson is being completely obtuse.
Furthermore, even putting all of that aside, it’s also utterly possible to “attack” an abstract object. But that’s a more philosophical argument that I won’t bother going into. Carlson is an idiot.