Most contemporary constitutionalists exhibit a highly critical attitude toward populism, seeing it as one of the main reasons for the “erosion” of liberal democratic institutions in a growing number of countries around the world. Other constitutional theorists, who are less hostile to the populist phenomenon, remain open to the prospect of a genuinely populist constitution. Irrespective of their differences, both camps take the existence of populism—itself a highly contested concept—for granted. In challenging this implicit consensus in constitutional theory about the actual existence of some observer-independent “populism,” this essay proceeds from two assumptions. One: like all political concepts, populism is a concept which, irrespective of the intentions of those who articulate it, has polemical implications. Two: like all polemical concepts, populism is a concept that must be “staged”. What that means are, again, two things. First, populism is staged because its meaning emerges against the backdrop of dramatized scenes that confront us with concrete political actors, impersonal technological tendencies, important historical events, elusive cultural atmospheres and broader socioeconomic landscapes. In most constitutionally relevant depictions of those scenes, populism emerges as a grave, if not yet existential, threat to liberal democracy. Which brings us to the second sense in which populism ought to be understood as “staged”: not just as an abstract concept propped up by concrete imaginings of protagonists, events, tendencies, and challeneges, but as a stage-prop: a polemical device whose function is itself dramatizing. Portrayed as a “regime,” painted in dark colours, and situated in opposition to liberal democracy, populism is a figure whose role is to make the face of liberal democracy look more appealing. If so, there is no reason not to look at populism as a rhetorical distraction from other, potentially more fruitful questions such as: What are the actual institutional features of liberal democracy—not as some abstract template of legitimate government —but as a specific, historically mutable, socio-economic and psycho-social regulatory regime? In what sense do such regimes have a “constitution”? In whose interest are constitutional theories that remain indifferent to those regimes’ realities? Offering a fresh look at how liberalist critics of populism project this “ideology” or “regime” on a stage on which it appears as a threat to liberal democracy, this article offers a vantage point from which to begin systematically confronting these questions.