The mainstream media coverage of Friday's Iranian presidential election is laughable. Progressives and allies of the Islamic Republic eager to see diplomatic progress are jumping on the notion that Iran is having her first truly "democratic" election.

The excitement seems to be that now, after a long time, Iranians will have their pick of presidential candidates. Associated Press is calling it a race between "hardliners" such as cleric Ebrahim Raisi and a "moderate," current President Hassan Rouhani. CNN is going so far as to call Rouhani an "outsider" who "seeks to liberalize the country." Even the typically skeptical Fox News is calling Rouhani a moderate. But is he, really?

In reality, Rouhani is no moderate. Sure, he identifies as such and he promises grand reforms such as economic freedom and an end to human rights violations in Iran. Oh, and he promised to free political prisoners. But he hasn't carried through on a single one of his promises, nor does he show any evidence of planning to.

The Wall Street Journal published a piece claiming Rouhani "appears to have given up" on his reform promises over his past term. But there is no reason to believe those promises were genuine in the first place.

Rouhani is conveniently a puppet of a theocratic regime that seeks to maintain its power by telling people what they want to hear. "We're a democracy." "We want to improve women's rights." "We are curbing our ballistic missile program." We accept it, either because we are too naive to know better or because we don't want to acknowledge the growing cancer that is the fundamentalist regime.

"We all can together with unity and calm and with the help of the exalted Leader, whose hand I am willing to kiss dozens of times," he announced days ago in Tabriz, pledging loyalty to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Khamenei, who formally endorsed Rouhani in his last term, was the first to cast his ballot this morning. Other prominent figures within the Islamic Republic, such as former president Mohammad Khatami, endorsed Rouhani as well.

The media and some politicians may be sold on the idea of Friday's election being "democratic," but policy experts and Iranian civilians are telling a different story.

Sohrab Ahmari offers a piece of advice to Iranian citizens who are sick of political charades: "Don't vote." The mullahs have their own plan for the people, and participating in an election that doesn't count only stupefies any concept of free will.

"Why should the Iranian people jump from the frying pan into the fire? The people of Iran reject the turban, whether it is white or black. No solution exists within the ruling religious dictatorship. The velayat-e faqih regime must be overthrown in its entirety," says Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, an opposition movement whose members were known for mysteriously disappearing under the theocratic regime.

The mainstream media, on the other hand, needs to get its head out of the sand. We need to stop projecting our naivete on a corrupt regime that has no intention of changing.

Pardes Seleh (@PardesSeleh) is a writer at The Daily Wire.

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