Yes, Virginia. There is a democracy and it lives in the hearts of all the people who believe they affect the world by voting. We encourage them to believe because it makes them happy and it makes the people in charge secure.
Your little friends are wrong. True, the candidates are all preselected by our monied classes and the range of positions is severely limited to what they consider acceptable. But democracy exists in form anyway, and in our hearts, pretty but insubstantial like so much gold-colored tinsel. It exists as surely as Tinker Bell, Spider-Man and Yoda exist.
It exists every time you step into a voting booth and pull a lever or touch a touchscreen and we (usually) count your vote—unless you don’t have an ID card or are misinformed (by members of the other party) that voting is on Wednesday. Or you can’t get time off from your three jobs that don’t quite feed your family.
No democracy? You might as well not believe in capitalism! Now shut up and pull the lever.