American Experiment update

In case you missed it… and what to watch for.

Night at the Gala

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headlined the Center’s Annual Dinner.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo keynoted American Experiment’s Annual Dinner gala on Friday, May 6, at the Hilton Minneapolis hotel.

The crowd of 850 heard the former secretary’s thoughts on Ukraine, China, and other current global crises, receiving an inside look at foreign policy under the Trump administration.

“It was a privilege to put you and your priorities first,” said Pompeo of his time in Washington, D.C. “We tried to get that right each and every day. And we didn’t get it right every day, but we never apologized for this special place, the United States of America. Not once did I go anywhere in the world and apologize for this great history.”

Pompeo served under Trump first as Director of the CIA and then as the 70th Secretary of State.

Emphasizing American excellence and resilience, he contrasted the “America first” directive followed during his tenure with the current administration’s priorities. The rushed withdrawal from Afghanistan, increasing wokeness of the U.S. military, and allowance of North Korea’s recent long-range missile tests were just a few of his critiques.

He also warned the conservative crowd not to let anyone gaslight them. It will take “real resolve,” but Americans will ultimately prevail, he assured.

“Our country is defined by what the Founders called the little platoons, the small places where people gather. And it’s not talking heads on cable TV or in the national salons of the United States Capitol, it’s in places like PTA meetings and soccer games, and our synagogues and churches and mosques. … These are the places that make America unique and special, and these are the sinews that tie our nation together.”

Speaking of the Russian invasion, Pompeo remarked upon Ukraine’s resilience.

“I think a combination of Ukrainian tenacity and fearlessness and Russian incompetence and a fair amount of support from lots of folks has made life really, really difficult for Putin,” he said.

But Pompeo warned that such resistance wouldn’t necessarily deter the Russian leader.

“He is an evil tyrant who wants two simple things: to stay in power and to create a greater Russia,” said Pompeo. “And whatever setbacks they may have… aren’t going to slow him down any more than they have to.”

The best defense the West has, he argued, is reestablishing deterrence. But only a strong America can deter “the bad guys.”

CAE President John Hinderaker spoke highly of Pompeo’s energy and personality.

“I knew Pompeo was a brilliant guy,” said Hinderaker, “but I didn’t realize he was so personable and friendly. It was great hearing from him at a time when foreign affairs are once again on the front burner. I think he could be a good presidential candidate.”

Beyond the Metro

A capacity crowd of 120 attendees was on hand to celebrate the inauguration of the Center’s Mankato chapter. A cocktail reception and social hour featuring Center President John Hinderaker on April 21 was held at Swiss and Madison in Mankato to mark American Experiment’s latest addition.

As part of American Experiment’s commitment to turning positive, conservative-minded ideas into reality for every Minnesotan, the outreach campaign to Greater Minnesota has been steadily growing. Mankato joins Duluth, Owatonna, and Rochester as part of the Center’s cause. Says the Center’s Greater Minnesota outreach director Micah Olson, “We have a number of events in the works for Greater Minnesota, building off the success of our Crime Crisis presentations in Owatonna and Rochester. They relate to public safety in Mankato and another in Owatonna on the economy and business. We are hoping to hit Willmar, New Ulm, Bemidji, and Duluth by the end of the year.” More information about upcoming events can be found on the Center’s website (

“Give It Back” tax rally

More than 400 people jammed into the rotunda of Minnesota’s Capitol in late April to implore Gov. Tim Walz and members of the legislature to give taxpayers what’s rightfully theirs: the $9.3 billion budget surplus. Center of the American Experiment sponsored the “Give It Back” rally as part of a comprehensive marketing effort that included radio ads, billboards, and an aggressive surge of social media.

Joining Center president John Hinderaker and former congressman Jason Lewis on the podium were radio personalities Scott Hennen (Flag Family radio), Jon Justice (KTLK radio) and Dan “Ox” Ochsner (KNSI radio) as featured speakers.

“The last thing this state needs are more taxes.” Hinderaker said. “We’ve got too many taxes; this state needs tax relief.”

The diverse crowd included Carolyn M. from Crystal who was there with her husband and two children. It was important for her family to attend, she says, because “we can’t seem to make forward progress in our lives. Especially after having to pull our kids out of public school because of COVID, we felt we weren’t getting anything in return for the tax burden. This administration isn’t solving problems.”

Many attendees brought homemade signs into the rotunda, occasionally chanting, “It’s our surplus, give it back!” Several political candidates offered supportive sentiments. “It’s not the government’s money to spend. The right and principled thing to do is give the money back to the taxpayers,” said Tom Dippel, Senate District 41 candidate and Cottage Grove resident who attended the rally with his wife and six young children.

American Experiment launched its “Give It Back” campaign with a report on the state budget written by economist John Phelan to help Walz and legislators deal with what became $9.25 billion in overcollections from taxpayers. “The Case for Permanent Tax Cuts for Minnesota” showed conclusively that Minnesota’s state government is already spending at historically high levels.

In 2020, Minnesota’s state government spent $4,348.20 for every state resident, the highest amount on record and 5.9 percent higher than in 2016. Minnesota also has the sixth highest rate of state personal income tax in the United States. American Experiment recommended using the ongoing structural surplus to permanently cut personal income taxes across the board.

Rep. Kristin Robbins, a member of the House Tax Committee, said she was at the rally to “fight for permanent tax relief to help Minnesotans at a time of rising inflation and to restrain the growth of government. The so-called ‘Walz Checks’ won’t do anything to help Minnesota families.”

The CRT tour continues

After the success of last summer’s “Raise Our Standards” tour, education policy fellow Catrin Wigfall continues traveling beyond Minnesota’s borders in North Dakota as well as Iowa and Wisconsin. Presentations were given in Fargo at the Avalon Events Center and West Fargo at the Rustad Recreation Center, both on Wednesday, May 25 following an event in Grand Forks May 24. On Thursday, June 2 American Experiment partnered with the Iowans for Tax Relief Foundation to bring the “Education Not Indoctrination” presentation to the Radisson Hotel’s conference center in Ames. Wigfall and ITR Foundation’s deputy director Walt Rogers discussed how Critical Race Theory, gender ideology, and identity politics are miseducating America’s youth and transforming our education system. Parents, grandparents and community members learned how to push back against the politicizing of public schools.

Upcoming events

American Experiment’s public engagement campaign continues, as it will once again have a booth at Minnesota Farmfest in Redwood County August 2-4. The three-day event attracts over 20,000 people and over 500 exhibitors from across the Midwest. The Center has been a presence at the annual event since 2019.

Also slated for this summer is a live taping of the popular politics-and-culture podcast, Ruthless, hosted by Comfortably Smug, Minnesota native Josh Holmes, Michael Duncan, and John Ashbrook. American Experiment’s John Hinderaker will be a guest. The June 29 event will take place on Lake Minnetonka.

Public policy work

American Experiment’s policy fellows are continuing to turn out important work in the public policy sphere.

  • Senior policy fellow Peter Nelson and Center economist John Phelan published a report on drug pricing, “Pharmaceutical Price Controls: Impact of Drug Pricing Legislation on Access to Life-Enhancing Drugs.”
  • Phelan and policy fellow Isaac Orr released a brief on American national security and energy production; and Orr and policy analyst Mitch Rolling published, “Gas Station Inflation: How the Walz Administration’s ‘Clean Fuel Standard’ Would Increase Pain at the Pump.”
  • Economist Martha Njolomole’s report, “Childcare Crisis: Regulation and the High Cost of Childcare in Minnesota” takes a serious look at the impact of government regulation on the cost of childcare for Minnesota families. Part of the report has been adapted for this issue of Thinking Minnesota.

The reports can be downloaded from the Center’s website (

New public policy fellow

David Zimmer has joined Center of the American Experiment as the policy fellow for criminal justice and public safety. Zimmer served 33 years with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, retiring as a captain. During his law enforcement career, Zimmer served as a deputy and a supervisor in areas including the Jail, Courts, Patrol/Water Patrol, Investigations, and Tactical Command.

Zimmer is a graduate of the Police Executive Research Forum’s (PERF) Senior Management Institute for Policing at Boston University. PERF is a national research, teaching, and advocacy group. Its Senior Management Institute is a command course for senior law enforcement leaders. Zimmer is also a graduate of the Bureau of Justice’s Fusion Center Management course in Washington, D.C. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice studies from St. Cloud State University.

Upon Zimmer’s hiring, Center president John Hinderaker said, “His wide range of experiences and decades of relationship building within the criminal justice system will serve Center of the American Experiment well, especially holding many different roles within Minnesota’s law enforcement community.”

Zimmer is anxious to continue his public safety work on the policy level, explaining, “I’m committed to using my professional experience to help advance policies that are good for public safety in Minnesota. My aim is to provide a voice for reasoned and proven solutions to issues facing the criminal justice system and our public safety officials. I’m particularly interested in advocating for good solutions to the issues facing our front-line peace officers and police managers.”

MN Parents Alliance

Minnesota Parents Alliance is the newly formed 501c(4). Its goal is to encourage, offer resources, and educate citizens interested in running for local school boards. School board candidate campaign schools are being advised by American Experiment’s Bill Walsh and Catrin Wigfall. The first meeting was May 7 with plans for follow-up sessions this summer. More information can be found at

National spotlight

Senior policy fellow Katherine Kersten was featured in the FOX News special The Miseducation of America, an expose about the leftist agenda damaging America’s public schools. The series is available through FOX Nation, a subscriber-based streaming service. Kersten’s episode aired on June 14.