"Ricky, do you concur with my proposition that even if Iran's elections were perfectly honest, that the democracy is a sham because the elected government holds some or no power depending on the whim of unelected Ayatollalitarians? "
Of course. Like I said, Iran is about as much a democracy as a "constitutional monarchy". Even less, since in those I don't recall the monarch having the power to disqualify candidates, and definitely not en masse and at whim like Khamenei does.
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In my view, there are other, non-theocratic mechanisms in the United States (which is probably less democratic in some ways than Israel, though I say so tentatively) which, while not disqualifying candidates per se, essentially guarantees that a huge range of issues and proposals will never be debated by any candidate for state or federal office.
Also, I think the US is a lot less oppressive than Iran because our culture is different. But if the U.S. was 75% conservative-evangelical as opposed to 40%, I suspect it would seem much more like Iran while retaining many of the same superficially democratic "functions."
Imagine a US in which 75% believed in the virtues of Sarah Palin. A firmly religious, nationalistic America.
On the other hand, Iran, like the US, still has elections contentious enough to cause mass protests. I can only assume that this reflects a genuine difference between the candidates.