When your governor is ad-libbing a line from the Battle Hymn of the Republic to the end of a major speech, you know you live in times of conflict.

That’s how Jerry Brown ended his State of the State address (“His truth is marching on”), which was a ripping-good speech if you’re about to start a Civil War. Which is about where California is.

The speech was by far the best of Brown’s State of the State addresses, either in this era or the previous one. It had a powerful overarching point. California isn’t going its own way—California is profoundly American, and we aren’t going to abandon America in the difficult Trumpian times. We’re going to fight for America.

The speech also was less random and jumpy than most Brown talks. It had none of the diffidence and excessive intellectualism that makes Brown such a thoroughly frustrating political leader. And it had a terrific metaphor through-line – Perseverance, which was the name of the ship Brown’s great grandfather boarded in Hamburg for America in the 1850s – and carried it throughout.

“It is that spirit of perseverance and courage which built our state from the beginning,” he said in an early passage that summed up the speech’s essence. “And it is that spirit which will get us through the great uncertainty and the difficulties ahead.”

Fundamentally, it was a call to think national, with just the right tone. He emphasized the need for civility and bipartisanship, and extended an olive branch to President Trump on infrastructure. But it also made plain that the state will fight to protect its people and ideas.

In striking that balance, the speech modeled exactly how Californians should be responding in these times. It also was reassuring to those of us who wondered if Brown, as the highest-ranking Democratic official in the United States, was up for leading the opposition to Trump.

“As we reflect on the state of our state, we should do so in the broader context of our country and its challenges,” Brown said. “We must prepare for uncertain times and reaffirm the basic principles that have made California the Great Exception that it is.”

That “Exception” reference – to Carey McWilliams’ great 1949 book California: The Great Exception – served as a reminder that California has played a role before. Indeed, it is role as outlier that makes us such an important part of the United States.

My only problem with the speech: it got such little notice. 10 a.m. on the weekday was the wrong time for a speech of this import. And it wasn’t even televised in Southern California.

Brown has used his megaphone so little in his time as governor – it’s not clear how much of a megaphone he still has.