A pediatrician from South Carolina is forming a new political organization focused on children’s issues.
The group, “Their Future, Our Vote,” will advocate for measures that address climate change, gun violence, childhood poverty and voting rights, among other issues. An affiliated political action committee, “Their Future PAC,” aims to raise between $5 million and $10 million to support candidates who back its agenda.
Dr. Annie Andrews, a Democrat who made an unsuccessful run for Congress last year, said she launched the effort because children are often ignored by policy makers.
“I ran for Congress to bring children’s voices to Washington, and although I did not win, over the course of the campaign it became crystal clear to me that there is a huge gap in the national political landscape and that is that children continue to not be represented,’’ said Andrews, who lost to Republican Rep. Nancy Mace in South Carolina’s 1st District.
While many groups advocate for the individual issues cited by Andrews, the new PAC aims to bring a holistic approach.
“The individual issue advocacy organizations and PACs are doing incredibly important work and our goal is not to replicate that,’’ she said in an interview. “Our goal is to reframe those conversations and unify those issues from the perspective of kids.”
Andrews said her advocacy was shaped by her work at a children’s hospital in Charleston.
“I grew increasingly frustrated at all of the policy failures that impacted the lives of the patients I was caring for,” she said, citing “kids with mental health problems who couldn’t access mental health resources, kids who are hungry, kids who can’t access the internet in their homes so [they] can’t keep up on their school work and all of the children I have cared for over [a] 10-year period who have been shot.”
“I knew I needed to do more than care for patients individually at the bedside, as gratifying as that work truly is,’’ she said.
Andrews’ goal is to make independent expenditures in at least 3 races during the 2024 election cycle. Although the PAC is non-partisan, it would not back any candidate who does not support stronger gun safety laws. It also won’t fund candidates who receive contributions from oil and gas interests or call for the elimination of the U.S. Department of Education.
The new campaign has received support from Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, and gun violence prevention advocate Fred Guttenberg.
Andrews said she is encouraged by a new generation of youth activists who are using their voices to speak out on climate change and gun violence, among other issues.
“It’s heartening to see these youth-led movements, but I firmly believe we should not put it on the shoulders of our nation’s youth to fight for their safety and a brighter future,’’ she said. “Although they are incredibly impactful, we adults need to do the heavy lifting. We need to work on strengthening our democracy so we can pass down a healthy democracy for our children and grandchildren. We need to work to take urgent action on climate change so we can pass on a healthy planet and we need to fight for common sense gun laws so our children aren’t sitting in their classrooms wondering if they’re going to be shot today.”