Mr. Thaler, who attended the event, said he believes Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 in part because she focused more on Mr. Trump than on issues that voters cared about. “I think that we’re primed to make that mistake again,” he said.
Peggy Bradin Wilson, 66, a retired federal employee and a leader of Indivisible in Delaware County, Pa., shared that concern, saying that impeachment proceedings could “inflame his base and bite us in the end.”
“I think it’s a distraction,” she said, adding that impeachment would “take the focus off the issues Congress needs to be dealing with, like health care, living wages, getting drug prices under control and the Green New Deal.”
But her fellow Indivisible leader, Karal Taylor, 74, a retired English and social justice teacher, disagreed — even as she conceded it would be nearly impossible to oust Mr. Trump with a Republican-led Senate.
“I believe we can do more than one thing at a time,” she said, adding: “I’m sort of an idealist. The process should go forward. He has to be held accountable even if the conclusion is foregone.”
Lawmakers in more Republican areas, who will appear next year on the ballot alongside Mr. Trump for the first time, appeared skittish.
Outside Charleston, S.C., where liberal politics are still mostly an aberration, Representative Joe Cunningham, whose victory in 2018 was one of the biggest Democratic upsets, comfortably fielded questions at a Tuesday gathering on infrastructure and money in politics. But when he was asked point-blank whether he would support impeachment, he tried hard to slam the door.
“We need to take a deep breath, ascertain all the facts and make our decision based upon facts and not emotion,” Mr. Cunningham said. “I know there are certain factions of my party that have introduced articles of impeachment, and I would say to certain members in our caucus that if they are trying to short-circuit President Trump’s time in office, that recourse is at the ballot box.”