Does Removal of #PlaidShirtGuy from Donald Trump Rally Show that He Wants Blind Obedience from Supporters?
Tyler Linfesty has gone viral for his reactions to Donald Trump's proclamations at an election rally (Photo: Time video grab)

Despite his political opponents and people across the world showing strong disapproval of the U.S. President Donald Trump’s decisions, he continues to enjoy record high ratings amongst his own supporters.

This support for the U.S. President is most visible when he is attending election rallies across rural white America. As Donald Trump speaks, those sitting around him cheer wildly and chant along with him. Remember “build a wall”, “build a wall”?

Well, it seems that this picture of adoration is infact carefully choreographed by Trump and his team. This revelation came when a teen sitting behind the President for his rally in Billings, Montana was removed for not cheering Trump in an ‘enthusiastic manner’.

What Happened

Positioned just beyond Trump's shoulder - and thus almost constantly visible throughout the televised event - was Tyler Linfesty, a 17-year-old senior from Billings West High School.

"We have the best economy in history!" Trump declared at one point in his speech, repeating a claim that has been fact-checked as false. Tyler made a quizzical expression, then turned to look at his friend.

"The stock market is at record highs," Trump said. "Unemployment is at record lows." Tyler raised his eyebrows and chewed his lip.

"And more Americans are working today than ever, ever, ever before!" Trump stated. Tyler glanced upward and appeared to mouth: "Is that true?"

His facial expressions soon caught the attention of his friends, who had been watching the rally on TV and texted Tyler to say he was, um, extremely visible. It was around that point that Tyler took a "Democratic Socialists of America" sticker from his pocket and affixed it to his shirt, he said.

Tyler's divergent reactions to Trump's speech which was noticed by most watching it and he soon began trending on Twitter. On social media, "the guy in the plaid shirt" quickly translated to #PlaidShirtGuy - and a meme was born.

But soon enough, a woman in a black dress walked up to Tyler onstage and took his place. Shortly afterward, his two friends were also removed. I just saw her coming on my left, and all I heard her say was, 'I'm going to replace you now,' " he said. "I knew I was getting removed because I wasn't enthusiastic enough. I didn't try to resist, so I just left," Tyler later told CNN.

The teen said some Secret Service members and local police escorted him to an area at the edge of the auditorium, where they asked for his ID and held him for about 10 minutes. They then "in a nice way asked me to leave and not return," Tyler said.

A Bad Precedent

The fact that a United States citizen was thrown out of a rally that was headlined by the President, simply for not cheering enthusiastically enough, and was then held in custody by the Secret Service, raises eyebrows and questions – about Trump and his political party.

It is as if the slightest bit of independent thought in an arena full of Trump supporters was just too much of a threat for the Republican Party. The action also shows that Trump’s team which has been besieged by criticisms and scandals is trying to ensure the narrative of full support for the President from rural America – his traditional vote base, remains unchallenged.

The act also shows the way Trump has governed the country, "You have to be enthusiastic, you have to be clapping, you have to be cheering for Donald Trump” or you are not making America great again.