Never has the “you’re from Mars, I’m from Venus” character of our politics been more evident than in the debate surrounding the possible ways to fund President Barack Obama’s jobs plan.

“Fair share!” shouts one side. “Job killer!” shouts the other. And the American people are like kids in the back seat of a car bumping along a remote woods road listening to their parents argue.

“You’re going the wrong way!” shouts one. “The tire is flat!” retorts the other. The longer we bump along, the darker it gets and the less likely it seems we’ll ever arrive at somewhere we want to be, the more those of us bouncing around in the back getting hungry just wish the so-called adults would just shut up. “Stop shouting and tend to the problems!” we think resentfully.

And the louder our flat thumps and the “loster” we get, the more we become convinced that “Mom and Dad” are not really trying to fix the car or find our way. They’re positioning themselves for a family meeting we’ve got scheduled a year from November.

They’re less interested in our current mechanical and geographical mess than in exploiting long-standing resentments we in the back seat have built up against each other over the long years of our family history.

Their jobs, after all, depend not on fixing the car or getting to a destination but on convincing enough of us to put one of them into the driver’s seat.

Political campaigning is not a good way to solve economic problems. Indeed, the failure to address economic problems — evidenced by the periodic jolts of hitting the debt ceiling, the random potholes of newly discovered batches of bad loans and the contradictory directional signs of monetary and fiscal policies — is the major reason businesses are hesitant to make new hires and we’re facing the possibility of a double dip recession.

So what are we kids in the back seat to do?

My suggestion is that we get out of the car and pursue the old Maine tradition of making do.

Like cast members of the television show “Survivor,” we’ve got to make our own way, create our own jobs. And promote the Maine brand as the place where “making do” is as practical in the 21st century as it was in the 19th. We can’t afford to let our economy remain hostage to political debates.

We’re told that Maine businesses have more than 20,000 jobs they can’t fill. Obviously, attracting and training workers with those skills is a long-term project.

But it has to start somewhere. And it can’t happen immediately. What are the career pathways? What are the combinations of knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for those jobs? And how do people acquire them over time?

We need better ways for the businesses posting those job openings to work with people who, while not completely qualified, are partially qualified and even those who are interested.

Today, the jump from education and training to working is too great. We need to find ways to bridge that gap with smaller hops.

That’s a task individual businesses and individual schools can undertake now. They don’t need to wait for housing prices to stabilize or tax reform to be enacted.

Not everyone attracted to Portland’s food scene is a James Beard award-winning chef. But that hasn’t stopped hundreds of cooks and bakers and organic food growers from establishing viable enterprises pursuing their passion for health and good taste.

Not every photographer or designer or app writer or machinist or engineer seeking to make a life in Maine may currently be qualified for one of the 20,000 jobs now going begging. And precious few of the 20,000 Mainers currently unemployed aspire to a life of dependence.

But many in both groups could become qualified if businesses made the pathway clearer and our educational institutions made the process of learning more accessible and less expensive.

These are economic choices not dependent on political decisions we can’t control and uncertainties clouding our investment horizons.

These are choices thousands of individuals — in and outside Maine — can make on their own if we but invite them to do so.

Charles Lawton is senior economist for Planning Decisions, a public policy research firm. He can be reached at: [email protected]