Here’s a reminder, courtesy of the Rolling Stones, to the
various Californians already camped out on the courthouse steps in advance of
Friday’s presentation of the final redistricting maps:

Cue the music: "You can’t always get what you want."

Republicans, Democrats, blacks, Latinos, mayors, county
supervisors and local activists across the state already have complained that
the lines drawn by the new California Citizens Redistricting Commission, all
boiling down to a single beef: They just aren’t fair.

And the way to fix that problem, naturally, is to redraw the
lines so that my political party/ethnic group/city/county/neighborhood gets
what it wants, even if the other political party/ethnic group, etc., gets

But redistricting is the ultimate zero-sum game, because
regardless of how you jigger the lines, at the end you still have 53
congressional districts, 80 Assembly districts, 40 state Senate districts and
four Board of Equalization districts. And to make things tougher, each
congressional district, for example, must contain 1/53 of California’s 30.2
million residents, with an allowed variance of exactly one person.

All that’s just a reminder that there’s nothing easy about
redistricting and that every mapping decision has consequences. That’s not
going to stop anyone from firing off a lawsuit, of course.

"This is a very political process where there are winners
and losers," Bob Stern of the Center for Governmental Studies told the
Sacramento Bee. "And losers tend to sue."


But before those billable hours start to pile up, here are a
couple of things to consider.

First, courts typically aren’t anxious to get involved in
redistricting fights, and you can probably double that disinclination when the
redistricting is based on rules set by a vote of the people. For politicians
who talk wistfully of the court-drawn redistricting plans in the 1970s and the
1990s, remember that those only came about because Republican governors Ronald
Reagan and Pete Wilson vetoed plans drawn by a Democratic Legislature.

In the 1980s, the courts did nothing about Rep. Phil
Burton’s "contribution to modern art," even dismissing a Republican-led effort
to redraw the Democrat-friendly gerrymandered maps.

A reminder to California GOP leaders: Gov. Jerry Brown is a
Democrat. And your voter registration dropped from 35 percent in 2000 to 31
percent today, so the chance of losing some seats shouldn’t be a surprise.

And, by the way, the only reason Democratic leaders are
complaining about the redistricting commission is because they’re upset they
didn’t get a chance to draw even worse lines for Republicans.

As for the blacks and Latinos talking about filing suit under the Voting Rights Act because the commission didn’t give them enough winnable districts, that’s a tough sell. A suit 10 years ago by Latino groups over a couple of ugly San Fernando Valley seats drawn to protect veteran Democratic Rep. Howard Berman went nowhere, which means that legal bar is set pretty high.

Then there are the various cities, counties and
neighborhoods upset because they see themselves shredded by the new lines.

It’s sad and it’s a shame and they may be right about the
political damage. For example, the decision to split Fremont’s South Asian
community into two adjoining congressional districts definitely blunts that
group’s growing political clout. But the lines have to go somewhere and there
will always be losers. Better luck next decade.

But there’s less than meets the eye to some of the

Shasta County supervisors, for example, voted Tuesday to
send a letter to the redistricting commission, complaining that the new maps
would move the county from state Sen. Doug LaMalfa’s district.

The letter was helpfully drafted by LaMalfa’s staff.

But the very fact that Californians are having these
arguments shows what a ray of sunshine the redistricting commission has been.

Sure, there are plenty of complaints, some of them valid.
But unlike decades past, when the Legislature was running the state’s
redistricting effort as its own private party, at least we know what’s out
there to complain about.

John Wildermuth is a
longtime writer on California politics.