“Arghhh! We’ll have to rent a dumpster!”

My wife is throwing things around in the basement: VHS tapes, Christmas decorations, pillows our daughters brought from college. I’m cowering upstairs with the dog hoping she’ll think we’re out walking. It doesn’t work.

When we moved to suburban D.C. 15 years ago, our new house seemed as vast and empty as a late-night parking garage. But we brought stuff with us, and as the girls grew we accumulated more: an air hockey table, lacrosse racquets, steak knives, hermit crab cages, camping gear, a wok, sea shells, guitars, backpacks, painting sets, a microscope, ice skates and (mysteriously) several old bowling pins among the rest. Now we’re trying to clean out.

“Do you think we should keep these cancelled checks?” she asks. “They’re from 1987.”

“Unless you expect to be audited by time-traveling IRS agents, I’d pitch them.”

 “What about this hat?” I ask. It is a floppy felt number that would suit the banjo player in “Deliverance.”
“You should have dumped that the day you bought it,” she sighs.

We are not hoarders. It’s just amid the daily hustle, it’s hard to know what you need, what you want and what ought to be discarded.

And this is what Rand Paul is talking about.   

The senator and presidential candidate made headlines this week, saying “the Republican brand sucks.” By that, he means the party can’t hope to gain fresh support with moldy ideas that many voters see as anti-environment, anti-minority and anti-progress.

And he’s right. Sure, some of those ideas once worked for the party, and for some diehards they still do. But not for most voters. Indeed, all the polls suggest the GOP will need a renovation sooner or later if it wants to stay in the White House hunt.  

And that means looking into the basement to see what counts and what is clutter. Now please excuse me: I have a jackalope to take to the curb.

Tom Foreman is a CNN correspondent and author of the upcoming book “My Year of Running Dangerously: A dad, a daughter, and a ridiculous plan.”