You’re reference to desperately unhappy lives is at the heart of the problem. My summary of the problem as a failure of education and a focus on greed explains what has produced that unhappiness. Those failures are fundamental failures of American culture just as structural racism is completely endemic. The specific results of these problems is a collapsing political system that is designed only for the benefit of the extremely rich. The evolution of a heavily militarized society dedicated to economic exploitation of the working and middle classes with the addition of intense political propaganda training the objects of that exploitation has brought us to where are now. Only workers have value but wages are kept low. Rapid automation is removing most semi skilled, clerical and middle management jobs leaving only service jobs at minimum wage and that is inadequate to live. Success is a $40,000 pickup truck and one child’s college education takes one person’s annual income. Pick one or the other.
A functional education would have warned you that automation alone is destroying the old hyper capitalist economics that was never successful anyway except for a tiny percentage. How and why did that happen. Most folks in this country still don’t have a clue. And, no, it’s not foreign workers and no it’s not some secret conspiracy. The only acceptable social support that they have is a neighborhood church that is steeped in ignorance and bigotry and supports the same propaganda.
This is the tragedy for full paradigm shifts in a society that has built itself into a corner. These people have been trained for decades by televangelists and snake oil preachers to ignore education and to pray for their fortune but to take what they can get from the other people in the meantime. And that they are special and chosen and vote for the scum who will strip away the services that are the reason for society and government to exist.
We have built huge barriers to keep these people in their place and to convince them that other people are eating their lunch so don’t question the people that built the barriers for their own greed.
Yes, that is about as miserable as you can get. If hitting yourself in the head with a hammer hurts you should be suspicious of people who are selling you a bigger hammer.