Playing the race card is no longer such a powerful tool, a civil rights leader and conservative black intellectual said Monday on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”

Black unemployment has fallen to the lowest level on record, which may be why President Donald Trump’s standing among black men has improved somewhat compared to his performance on Election Day in 2016, according to a recent poll. This is one of the few demographic groups that view Trump more favorably.

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“[Democrats] are terrified that this president gets somewhere north of 10 to 15 percent of the black vote,” said Niger Innis, spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) (pictured above right, in red tie, in the image on this page). “And they’re terrified because, if that happens, then it is first of all, mathematically, electorally impossible for a Democrat to win.”

Innis added, “But more than that, it is because they are so invested in having a monopoly of the black vote, and that monopoly is based on blacks as forever seeing themselves as victims, forever seeing themselves as victims of racism, of economic depravity of the white man.”

Shelby Steele, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, who wrote a column on the subject for The Wall Street Journal over the weekend, told host Laura Ingraham that Democrats and many of the traditional civil rights advocacy groups depend on racial strife.

“Racism is absolutely their only source of power on the American political scene,” said Steele (pictured above left). “And so they’re just hysterical with happiness when they find racism … The fact is, without racism, they would not exist. They would not be in power.”

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Steele said African-Americans, after a long, historic struggle, now have the same opportunities — and responsibilities — as all Americans.

“They’re just hysterical with happiness when they find racism … The fact is, without racism, they would not exist. They would not be in power.”

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“We are completely, absolutely free to do anything we want to do in life. Well, that puts the Left out of business,” he said. “They have no one to save anymore, no one to redeem.”

Steele criticized Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) — a legendary figure from the 1960s civl rights movement — for choosing to skip Trump’s first State of the Union speech later this month.

“John Lewis is a figure of pathos,” he said. “He’s sad, because he’s completely outside, does not understand the historical moment he’s living in.”

The Trump-is-a-racist theme kicked into high gear last week amid reports — disputed by the president and some senators — that he referred to some third-world countries as “s***holes.”

To Democrats, the remark — reportedly made during a meeting with a group of lawmakers to discuss a possible amnesty for illegal immigrants brought to America as children — is prima-facie evidence of Trump’s racial animosity.

Innis said it is unfortunate that Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) would betray a private conversation. He said it fits into a larger narrative.

“There is a race extortion game where the race card is used as a dramatic weapon of destruction, and that’s what’s going on right now against the president,” he said. “And it is unfortunate.”

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Innis said people ought to expect more of the “Al Sharptonization of American politics,” a reference to the civil rights leader and former Democratic presidential candidate. Why? Because, Innis said, breaking the stranglehold on the black vote represents an “existential threat to the future of the Democrat Party.”

Steele said Trump should keep hammering on economic opportunity for Americans of all backgrounds.

“I would take that all-boats-rise theme if I were Donald Trump,” he said. “It’s in line with his own background with his own entrepreneurial spirit.”

Steele said the thinking of many black leaders is obsolete.

“They’re acting as though this is America in 1965. It isn’t,” he said. “And so they’re not helpful in any way. They’re holding their own people down.”

PoliZette senior writer Brendan Kirby can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

(photo credit, homepage and article images: Nigel Innis [1] [2], CC BY-SA 2.0, by Gage Skidmore)