Short answer: we could never agree on a list.
Important answer: You’ve exposed, maybe inadvertently, a very important detail about how liberals and conservatives think differently.
As I often say, the better terms for the teams are hierarchy and equality. That is what we are really talking about. That is the difference. There are deep, measurable, biological reasons, that I won’t go into here, but look and you’ll find them.
Conservatives have a vertical hierarchy, from a big leader all the way down to dog catcher. Peck order. You rate writers and follow them. Conservatives follow leaders. Strength and confidence. Note how Republicans that opposed Trump finally lined up behind him.
Liberals are about equality. Horizontal social structure. A massive herd and we’re all members in good standing. So, there are no authorities on liberalism that we elevate. We don’t much elevate, that is a conserv-er-uh-hierarchy thing.
I even searched on “top liberal intellectuals” and was taken to Forbes’ list of top liberal thinkers. I know right, Forbes. Anyway, I couldn’t agree with a damn thing they said. They put Andrew Sullivan on the list for some reason. Nope, nope, nope. It was a list of what a conservative thinks liberals think, but one that doesn’t understand how liberals think at all.
I’ll read material from all kinds of sources, but I only take what I value from it. No vox populi, famous name, appeal to authority, pretty past laurels or movie star looks can sway me.
It reminds me of when a Libertarian asked what books liberal atheists get their values from, like evangelicals get from the Bible and libertarians get from Atlas Shrugged. The answer was, of course, all of the other books but those. A little here, a little there. Just the good stuff.