Silverado’s First Steps
Charting a Path
In 1852, Napa Valley, California was barely a dot on the map. The area remained largely unsettled, and the region’s hilly terrain and heavy springtime rain made it difficult for merchants and traders to traverse.
During the summer of that year, a group of tradesmen and local workers constructed a permanent 29-mile road through the heart of the valley, snaking around rolling mountains and treacherous hills. The path provided the first reliable overland trade route between the Calistoga’s mineral mines in the north and Napa’s commercial shipping routes to the south, stitching the small communities that dotted the valley into a unified trade network. In 1858, when prospectors discovered prolific deposits of silver in the northern valley, the path became a heavily-trafficked trade route for the speculators and miners who flocked to the area. As the path’s popularity grew, travelers decided to give it a name that captured its newfound prestige. They called it the Silverado Trail.
Today, with the public launch of the Silverado Policy Accelerator, we’re laying the first paving stone in a new path toward the future.
Silverado is a new bipartisan, non-profit policy organization dedicated to advancing American prosperity and global competitiveness in the 21st century. Using a novel policy accelerator approach, Silverado will advance actionable policy solutions to pressing challenges in three critical areas of economic, strategic, and technological competition: cybersecurity, trade and industrial security, and “Eco²Sec,” our term for the host of issues that arise at the intersection of ecological and economic security. Our Strategic Council, which will be co-chaired by Gen. David Petraeus (U.S. Army, Ret.) and the former Australian Prime Minister The Honorable Malcolm Turnbull, includes a bipartisan and interdisciplinary group of policy experts.
We are thrilled to get to work.
Why Silverado, why now?
Silverado is our response to a set of interrelated challenges that we’ve observed during our careers both in Washington and the private sector. The first and most immediate challenge is a practical one: how can non-profit policy organizations turn policy ideas into actionable policy initiatives? If there is one thing that America does not lack, it’s creative and novel ideas for new policies. Thousands of these ideas circulate throughout policy circles every year in think tank and industry reports and academic papers, but very few of them include detailed plans to guide their implementation. As a result, too many good ideas never graduate from concept to policy.
The second is a perennial challenge in Washington, D.C.: how to advance genuinely bipartisan solutions in a hyper-polarized political climate? “Bipartisanship” is a favorite buzzword in Washington, but when it comes to addressing large-scale geopolitical problems, bipartisan cooperation isn’t just an ideological preference — it’s a practical necessity. Either people with divergent views are able to find some common ground, or we all risk falling behind.
The third problem is both more vexing and more pressing. Through our work in cybersecurity and international trade, we’ve witnessed firsthand the emerging contest for global leadership between the world’s great powers. China’s quest for global supremacy has sparked a high-stakes competition for economic, technological, and strategic advantages that touches every element of public policy, from international trade to domestic manufacturing policy to education. Competition between global powers is not new, of course, but in an era of unprecedented global interconnectedness and technological advancement, it creates new challenges for the United States and its allies.
Today, many of the United States’ competitors are conducting foreign policy and domestic economic policy according to comprehensive, sometimes decadal strategic plans designed specifically to advance national interests across a range of interrelated sectors — trade, technology, economic policy, environmental policy. The United States must also work toward a long-term, multi-sectoral plan to maintain global competitiveness and facilitate economic growth that prioritizes collaboration with its strategic and economic allies.
We have reached an inflection point in this contest. The ascendance of competitors in a new era of great power competition has not only challenged U.S. interests at home and abroad. It has cast doubt upon the principles upon which U.S. and allied leadership is based: multilateralism, market liberalism, even the very concept of democracy itself. At this pivotal moment of global competition, the nations that present bold, long-term strategies will shape the global order for decades to come. It’s time for the United States to put forth its own strategy.
What’s next for Silverado?
In the coming months, Silverado will launch a series of initiatives to lay the groundwork for this new strategic vision.
Over the past six months, Silverado has hosted a series of private roundtable discussions featuring bipartisan and interdisciplinary groups of policy experts and stakeholders to identify key questions within each of our three pillars and identify actionable solutions. Soon, we will launch a new series of private roundtables and public-facing events to continue these discussions and bring new voices and perspectives into the fold. Our first set of initiatives will focus on working with the Biden-Harris administration, Congress, and private sector companies to fortify civilian government defenses against nation-state cyber attacks, building on recommendations in Dmitri’s recent congressional testimony. We will also be kicking off work on our Eco²Sec pillar by facilitating discussions with industry, government, and workers on the best solutions to promote U.S. jobs and exports while embracing an environmentally-friendly future.
Also in the coming months, we will launch Silverado’s inaugural Ideas Competition to kick off our first round of policy acceleration, a months-long process that will leverage the policy expertise and strategic guidance of our Strategic Council to build step-by-step action plans around policy solutions in our three areas of focus.
Our first year of activity will culminate in Silverado’s first annual Solutions Summit in the spring of 2022. Today, the Silverado Trail, now a scenic two-lane highway, runs through the heart of Napa wine country. When it’s once again safe to do so, we plan to convene a diverse group of policy experts and stakeholders at a Napa winery for discussion and debate around solutions to key challenges facing American prosperity and global leadership — and, of course, for some delicious wine.
We are thrilled to be taking these first steps in Silverado’s journey, and we hope that you will join us along the way. For more information about Silverado and updates on upcoming events and initiatives, please explore our website, follow us on Twitter @SilveradoPolicy, or visit our LinkedIn page.
All the best,
Dmitri Alperovitch and Maureen Hinman
Co-founders and Chairs, Silverado Policy Accelerator