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The anti-bilingual movement in the United States is a status movement, but a simple “status politics” analysis does not fully capture its dynamics. Such movements are neither homogeneous nor merely reflective of social structure, but express internal ambivalence and organize sociopolitical change through rhetorical processes. I analyze texts produced in San Francisco's 1983 campaign against bilingual ballots in order to account for the initiative's broad appeal. Rhetorical tropes and recurring themes shift the target of the campaign to aspects of political process of which a wide spectrum of Americans are suspicious, projecting fears onto outsiders and constructing a familiarly benevolent meaning for the initiative.[American politics, language policy, status movements, discourse analysis, ideology]