Camille Paglia is a left-wing feminist intellectual. She is not, though, an orthodox member of the left - she does sometimes set herself outside of the intellectual mainstream.
In her Salon article, Camille Paglia is critical of the American Democrats for being out of touch with grassroots feeling on the healthcare issue. She asks tellingly:
Why has the Democratic Party become so arrogantly detached from ordinary Americans? Though they claim to speak for the poor and dispossessed, Democrats have increasingly become the party of an upper-middle-class professional elite, top-heavy with journalists, academics and lawyers ...
This is a significant point. Left-liberals like to imagine themselves as being dissenting outsiders battling a privileged establishment. The reality is that left-liberals themselves form an entrenched wing of the political establishment. The self-image is bogus.
That the left forms a political establishment on campus is illustrated by the experiences of Dan Lawton. He is an American university student who thought it a bit one-sided that only 2 out of 111 academics at the University of Oregon were Republican voters. He wrote a column for the student paper suggesting that the university attempt to attract a few right-wing professors:
What I didn't realize is that journalism that examined the dominance of liberal ideas on campus would be addressed with hostility.
A professor who confronted me declared that he was "personally offended" by my column ... I decided to speak with him in person in the hope of finding common ground.
He was eager to chat, and after five minutes our dialogue bloomed into a lively discussion. As we hammered away at the issue, one of his colleagues with whom he shared an office grew visibly agitated. Then, while I was in mid-sentence, she exploded.
"You think you're so [expletive] cute with your little column," she told me. "I read your piece and all you want is attention. You're just like Bill O'Reilly. You just want to get up on your [expletive] soapbox and have people look at you."
... She quickly grew so emotional that she had to leave the room. But before she departed, she stood over me and screamed ...
Students should never come under personal attack from faculty members for straying from the party line. The fact that they do shows how easily political partisanship can corrupt the elements of higher education that should be valued the most.
Camille Paglia also points out that left-liberals typically value individual autonomy as the highest good whilst supporting the growth of an intrusive, coercive state authority:
Weirdly, given their worship of highly individualistic, secularized self-actualization, such professionals are as a whole amazingly credulous these days about big-government solutions to every social problem. They see no danger in expanding government authority and intrusive, wasteful bureaucracy.
And what about the liberal idea that we should be radically self-determining, writing our own script, following our own life path etc. Camille Paglia doesn't see it happening in practice:
But affluent middle-class Democrats now seem to be complacently servile toward authority and automatically believe everything party leaders tell them. Why? Is it because the new professional class is a glossy product of generically institutionalized learning? Independent thought and logical analysis of argument are no longer taught. Elite education in the U.S. has become a frenetic assembly line of competitive college application to schools where ideological brainwashing is so pandemic that it's invisible. The top schools, from the Ivy League on down, promote "critical thinking," which sounds good but is in fact just a style of rote regurgitation of hackneyed approved terms ("racism, sexism, homophobia") when confronted with any social issue. The Democratic brain has been marinating so long in those clichés that it's positively pickled.
Camille Paglia has also noticed the left-liberal failure to think deeply about the real world consequences of social policy:
By a proportion of something like 10-to-1, negative articles by conservatives were vastly more detailed, specific and practical about the proposals than were supportive articles by Democrats, which often made gestures rather than arguments and brimmed with emotion and sneers. There was a glaring inability in most Democratic commentary to think ahead and forecast what would or could be the actual snarled consequences -- in terms of delays, denial of services, errors, miscommunications and gross invasions of privacy -- of a massive single-payer overhaul of the healthcare system in a nation as large and populous as ours. It was as if Democrats live in a utopian dream world, divorced from the daily demands and realities of organization and management.
Finally, I thought there was something to this observation by Camille Paglia:
If the left is an incoherent shambles in the U.S., it's partly because the visionaries lost their bearings on drugs, and only the myopic apparatchiks and feather-preening bourgeois liberals are left.