Editorial Writer

A discarded hat supporting Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sits on the sidewalk. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Should Donald Trump withdraw from the race?

According to a growing list of Republican leaders and luminaries, yes. Most of them weren’t outraged until Friday, but now they’re clamoring for their nominee’s exit — never mind that selecting a new standard-bearer and petitioning states to change their ballots would be a logistical nightmare.

But maybe — even if the Republicans could swap in running mate Mike Pence without too much trouble — it would be better if Trump stuck around.

Many liberals would like to see the nominee stay in the race rather than watch Pence take his place. The cool and collected Indiana governor defeated Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.) in Tuesday’s debate and perhaps could — like any conventional conservative — have done the same to Hillary Clinton in the election if Trump had never entered the equation.

Is it right to want our national disgrace to continue for another month just so the Democrats can win the White House? When you put it that way, it’s hard to respond with a resounding “yes.”

But there are other, better arguments for letting Trump hang around.

First, it would give citizens the chance collectively to renounce Trump’s bigotry and balderdash at the polls. A landslide defeat would be a national referendum against the racism, sexism and general un-Americanism Trump has come to represent.

Then there’s the effect ditching Trump could have on the GOP. Republicans have allowed Trump to trample all over our country’s discourse for the past 16 months. Some are taking a stand now to save face, but no one with a shred of sense should really find the latest revelations surprising.

The GOP nominated Trump, and it stood behind him as he demonized an entire religion, attacked the nation’s military, winked at the assassination of his opponent and tweeted about a “sex tape” at 3 a.m. That’s the GOP’s record right now, and in November that’s what voters should judge it on.

If Trump goes down, the Republican Party can claim to be off the hook. Maybe the GOP would still lose in November, but it would lose with a semblance of dignity. That would be an excuse to shy away from some sorely needed soul-searching.