Branson Tea Party Coverage by Springfield News-Leader's Roseann Moring

he main organizer of this weekend's tea party rally in Branson said the event is a chance to bring like-minded people together.

"It validates the fact that you've got those concerns," Eric Farris said.
The group is centered around the principles of fiscal responsibility, limited government and free-market policies, he said. The Branson Tea Party website says the rally also aims to generate excitement for the Nov. 2 election.
Milton Wolf, President Barack Obama's second cousin, and country singer Ray Stevens are the main attractions. Also speaking are Eddy Justice, a tea party organizer from Poplar Bluff and Gina Loudon, who hosts a St. Louis radio show.
Faris said the event, like the coalition members, is nonpartisan. He said no elected official or even local candidate has spoken at a coalition rally.
"We don't want to be co-opted," he said. "We don't want to be cheaply imitated."
The Branson Tea Party Coalition got its start at about the same time as many around the country, by rallying on tax day in April 2009. Since then, the movement has gained momentum, with two more rallies from the Branson coalition in November 2009 and this April.
A southwest Missouri sometime tea party organizer who plans to attend this rally, Paul Beaird, said the purpose of the tea party is to ensure that "pro-freedom" candidates win their respective primaries.
"Pro-freedom," to Beaird, means a candidate who will commit to repealing every law that expands the federal government's power that was passed in the last 120 years.
Though the rally comes days after the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released a report detailing what it says is racism on the fringe of the tea party, Beaird bristles at the suggestion that any members are racist.
"If you are a member of the human race, we are the champions of your freedom," he said.
He says he's seen no indication of racism in the almost two years the tea party has been around.
Statewide, St. Louis seems to be the area of Missouri where the tea party movement has taken the most hold, said George Connor, a professor at Missouri State University's political science department.
In many ways, the modern tea party is a mirror image of the populist movement of the late 1800s, he said.
That movement was a grass-roots operation that was to the left of the Democrats of the day, he said.
The tea party movement is primarily "to the right of the right, statistically speaking," he said. And though it has members from both major political parties, the movement has primarily had influence on the Republican Party.
He said he sees the movement having an effect on the 2012 election. But after that, he said, it's hard to guess. Historically speaking, such movements either get absorbed into a major party or dissipate.
"I'm going to wait and see," he said.