The Green Party candidate has been blasted by progressives for running a lackluster campaign, with no real organization and few major events.
Some have suggested that he might give the Green Party a bad name, a charge Hassig has rejected.
Bob Gorman, at the Watertown Daily Times, has suggested that Hassig might be suffering from mental illness.
And Hassig himself, in an interview with our Natasha Haverty, conceded that he had no real chance of competing in the NY21 House race.
But there is a long, vibrant and healthy history of protest and issue-raising candidates in American politics and last night Hassig was at his best.
Sitting on the stage with Democrat Bill Owens and Republican Matt Doheny, Hassig seemed to be the only guy actually having fun.
He avoided the kind of distracting behavior — i.e. dancing and rambling on ad nauseum — that has distracted attention from his message.
And he repeatedly chided the other politicians for what he described as their cautious, unimaginative ideas — a charge I suspect that many voters would share.
Hassig also threw out some big ideas of his own, which drew significant amounts of applause from the big crowd at Queensbury High School.
He proposed turning America’s military into a purely defensive force, withdrawing from the World Trade Organization, and banning corporate farms.
“Our country is faced with great challenges,” Hassig said. “This is a time for digging down in our inner being and thinking about how we’re connected to everything, a time for making huge changes.”
Hassig suggested that while he might be a long-shot or even a non-shot in 2012, his ideas will be mainstream by 2020. Then he pumped his fist in the air and gave a cheerful whoop.
Siena’s poll earlier this month suggested that 6% of North Country voters are considering casting their ballots for Hassig, which means that — if their survey is correct — one out of twenty people you see on the street today are leaning green.
For all Hassig’s troubled history, you could see last night why some people would find appeal in his radical, let’s-change-everything-and-love-Mother-Earth brand of politics.