Libs are all up in arms about Putin whereas many turned a blind eye towards the abuses under Soviet Russia. I'm not saying you, TL, but many of your older compadres did.
The USSR wasn't as appealing to the old counter culture as was the mystique surrounding China's Proletarian Cultural Revolution lead by Mao, with its impassioned pro-worker, anti-capitalism campaigns. The anti-establishment youth of late 60s America were the same age as China's Red Guards, and Mao's Little Red Book found its way to Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, where I was once handed a copy. Of course at that time Mao's horrific reign of terror and murder wasn't widely known. But I think many young Americans terrified of being sent off to an increasingly unpopular war in Vietnam by self-serving politicians, fueled a legitimate climate of mistrust about our own government's motives.
Curiously, in spite of the fact that Mao Tse-tung was responsible for more death and suffering than any other leader in history, there are those in China who are nostalgic for his Cultural Revolution period. What on Earth could make people look back with fondness at at time when so many of their countrymen suffered and died, and their lives were reduced to nothing outside of the State?
Totalitarian governments are aided by opportunistic leaders who govern by fear and mistrust of outsiders, which is why people are closely watching Turkey's situation after their constitutional referendum toward an "executive presidency". Meanwhile, Trump's popularity is heading downhill and despite his bluff, he knows it. It's especially frightening to me that he's come so close to involving the US in escalating military action without the support of the American people.