But he has become arguably the prototypical insider in the Age of Obama: confident, cloaked in numbers, assured about the virtues of economic intervention but alarmed by the growing dysfunction of politics. In fact, he is so deep inside now that he’s come to an even more terrifying conclusion about life in The Village than his Netroots compatriots could ever have dreamed: “I’m much more certain that the problems are systemic and the various forms of gatekeeping elites [are] impotent,” he wrote me in a follow-up email to our interview. “And that feeling—that the people in charge aren’t just wrong or bought off, but that, quite often, they fundamentally don’t know what they’re doing—is a bit scary, and fairly radicalizing.”

So the activist-turned-opinion journalist is becoming more radicalized. If the last decade is any guide, wherever Ezra Klein’s politics go next, American liberalism will go as well. Whether the latter will still be a force for change is something the rest of us won’t know until Klein is at least 29.

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Matt Welch (matt.welch@reason.com) is editor in chief of Reason and co-author of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America.