This paper argues that community development has much to learn from the discursive strategies developed within Barack Obama's successful 2008 presidential campaign. The discourse of the campaign constructed specific identities of both Obama and the public which (re)produced a collective mood for change. By constructing the public (rather than the campaign) as active agents for change, the Obama campaign helped to fuel the desire and social practices for change in the political establishment. Understanding how the campaign constructs the identities of Obama and the voting public is crucial for community development in the United States and the United Kingdom. Despite its rhetoric, community development often constructs highly problematic identities in which the public are constituted as a passive object rather than an active agent for progressive social change. Learning lessons about how the Obama campaign constructs collective identity may help community development transform these problematic discursive practices in relation to local people.