What issues, beliefs, backgrounds, and economic realities divided Americans in the 1980s, and how do these divisions shape the culture and politics of contemporary America?

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Many different issues divided America in the 1980s, leading to many of the political issues still under debate.

One of the most important issues was race and how to remedy the long-lasting effects of slavery and other racial inequalities. Many of the solutions, such as desegregation and affirmative action, have proven of limited effectiveness and led to substantial backlash. An economic crisis in Mexico in the 1980s contributed to an increase in immigration, leading to issues which are still debated when discussing current immigration policy. Another important issue was the ongoing transformation of gender roles and realization of gender equality. 

On an economic front, this was a period of recession followed by a period of prosperity. However, it was a time during which inequality increased and prosperity gradually migrated from labor to capital. The wealthiest, who owned stocks or other forms of capital, got far richer than workers, and executive pay continued to outstrip worker pay. These problems of economic inequality persist today.