Lance Wood. Photo courtesy Lance Wood.
Lance Wood. Photo courtesy Lance Wood.

Central Michigan University student Lance Wood doesn’t see science and the economy as different things — people need both working together to thrive.

MT. PLEASANT, MI — Lance Wood studies environmental science at Central Michigan University. Learning during a pandemic and a pivotal election year has shaped his vote, he says. 

Balancing virtual and in-person learning, Wood says the general feeling among his fellow students is uncertainty. He says that’s mainly because of some national leaders’ response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Wood believes Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had been proactive in addressing the coronavirus pandemic, where the federal level has largely reacted instead. Symptom data shows the pandemic protections put into place by Michigan had an almost immediate effect in slowing the spread of the virus—science he was happy to see. 

That’s because in a lot of ways, he says the response to the coronavirus is like what he’s spent his time at Central studying: climate change.

“I’ve studied climate change for a while. I know what it’s like to have people refuse to listen to the science,” he said. “Here we see, again, the difference it’s made.”

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That motivates his vote this November. 

It’s only one dimension of the central concern Wood has that will drive his vote. Just like listening to science gives people a better chance during the pandemic and climate change, Wood votes to give everyone the best chance he can to thrive. 

“I vote for someone who looks at everyone and wants everyone to succeed and wants everyone to have a fair shot in this country,” he told The ‘Gander. “Regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, any of those things [I want to vote for someone] that just looks at them as people.”

He doesn’t see that as different from his advocacy for science and fighting the pandemic and climate change, rather sees them both as part of a single whole. As an example, Wood points to the green economy. 

“There tends to be a misconception about what climate policy looks like,” Wood explained. 

Rather than eliminating jobs that have a negative impact on the economy, explained Wood, a green economy creates jobs in renewable energy, and helps transition workers from one form of energy production to something more sustainable to ensure jobs aren’t lost, but gained. 

READ MORE: Biden’s Plan for the Climate Is Focused on Clean Jobs. Trump Says ‘It Will Start Getting Cooler.’

And those jobs would be able to provide for others to have the same advantages Wood has had. As the son of union workers from Lenawee County, Wood was raised in a comfortable middle-class lifestyle that has become increasingly harder for Michiganders to maintain. 

“My dad had a decent job, good wages, stable health care which I still have,” he said. “It’s scary seeing the attacks on organized labor and things like that.”

There are other issues motivating his vote, of course. He’s concerned about the massive generational time bomb that is the student debt crisis faced by Zoomers like him and Millennials. He also is excited to see a plan to expand the Pell Grant program from a major candidate  without Pell, he doubts he’d have been able to afford his education at Central.

But the throughline across all those motivations is giving other Americans the advantages he had as a middle-class kid in Michigan.