Christians to often blandly use Romans 13:1 as a slogan for political power, assuming it settles the issue, without considering what Paul actually said in his letter.

A well-known theologian recently gave a slightly more sophisticated version of their argument,

Biblical political theology is predicated on the fact that the one God who made the world wants the world to be wisely ordered, and to be wisely ordered through human government. So even people who would be seen as a bad ruler would have a God-given job which must be honoured. Even a cruel, wicked, stupid government has a role that is God-given.
This type of political theology, which is very common, is used to interpret Romans 13 and claim that Paul was authenticating the authority of the Roman emperor. The evil man Nero was probably emperor at the time when Paul was writing, so if he was God's servant, we must submit to every political power. The implication is that God gave the Roman emperor authority so that he could bring order to the earth. Therefore, all Christians should submit to him, even if he often does evil things. The same principle is applied to all rulers. We are required to submit to rulers, even when they do evil, because they are carrying out a God-given rule.

This logic is flawed. Firstly, God never said that he was appointing rulers to ensure that his creation was wisely ordered. He gave responsibility for caring for the world to all humans. And he gave the law for the specific purpose of maintaining order on the earth (1 Tim 1:8-11). The idea that God appointed kings, president and other rulers to ensure that the world is wisely ordered is simply not true. In fact, they have been the main cause of disorder (1 Sam 8). Therefore, the claim that they have a God-given role that should be honoured is incorrect.

More important, even a cursory reading of the words that Paul wrote in Romans 13 shows that they are not a description of the Roman Empire. Rome did not do what Paul claimed that good judges would do.

The idea that Rome was interested in order and peace is a myth. The Caesars wanted control. They expanded the area under their area, so they could extract food and other resources and bring them back to Rome.

Roman soldiers were not scattered around the world to protect the people of the nations from troubles. They were there to keep people under control, and they were ruthless in putting down all opposition. Roman soldiers were cruel and heartless in dealing with ordinary people.

They would defend countries against invading armies, not for their protection, but to ensure that another empire did not get control of their resources.

Paul was able to travel fairly freely around the Roman empire, but that was not the result of Roman efforts to spread peace. It was an accidental consequence of their attempts to expand the areas they controlled.

If Paul was claiming in Romans 13 that political power could bring peace and order in the world, he was certainly not talking about the Roman emperor.

Paul was not describing the Roman justice system when he wrote in Romans 13:3-5.

Good judges hold no terror for those who do right, but only for those who do wrong. If you want to be free of fear of judges authority, do what is right. You will praise them, because the judge is God's servant for your good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for a judge does have the power to punish for nothing; for he is God's servant, to avenge those who practice evil by decreeing sentence against them. Consequently, you must submit, not only because of abhorrence of crime, but also for conscience sake.
The Romans were not interested in providing justice for the ordinary people. Roman law provided some protections for the noble families who controlled Rome, but even that was quite capricious. A nobleman could be up one day, and down the next. Most ordinary people got no justice at all. Roman justice was used to enslave people and extract wealth for the benefit of the Empire. Beatings for trivial things were frequent and crucifixions were common for people who had done very little wrong. Even a Roman soldier would be lucky to get justice, if their commanding officer took a snitch against them.

Paul was not thinking about Rome when he said that people who do right had nothing to fear. Good people had very good reasons to fear the Roman authorities. Paul was able to appeal to Caesar, because he was a Roman citizen. That put him into an elite group. Ordinary people could not make that appeal. And the appeal did not seem to work for Paul, because he died in Rome, despite a representative of Rome recognising that he was innocent. King Agrippa said,

They began talking to one another, saying, "This man is not doing anything worthy of death or imprisonment." And Agrippa said to Festus, "This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar" (Acts 26:31-32).
This was not justice. True justice would have set Paul free, once it was understood that he had not committed a crime. But Agrippa and Festus wanted to protect their own reputation, so they were scared to do the just thing and set him free.

Pauls statement about good people having nothing to fear does not fit with Jesus' treatment by Pilate. He agreed that Jesus was innocent, but he had him flogged and crucified anyway, because he was scared the Jewish power brokers would report him to Rome. Jesus was killed by Roman justice, like many others of his countrymen, so it could not be said that good people had nothing to fear from Roman justice. Paul knew what happened to Jesus and many other disciples, so he was clearly not writing about Roman justice in his letter to the Romans.

When Paul spoke about giving money to those we owe, he was not writing about Rome.

This is why we pay a contribution to good judges. They are God's servants devoting all their time to administering justice. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe a contribution, pay a contribution; if a toll is owed, then pay a toll. Respect those judges worthy of respect. Only, honour those worthy of honour (Rom 13:7).
Paul was not saying that people should pay taxes to Rome in return for the services that Rome provided them. He did not see Rome as a service provider. Roman made was not committed to providing services for ordinary people. Any benefits that fell to ordinary people were a mistake.

The Roman tax system was not set up to raise money to support ordinary people in the way that modern people think about taxes. It was an extraction system designed to seize as much wealth as possible from subservient peoples. Roman-appointed tax farmers would take as much as they could get, leaving their victims with almost nothing to live on. Romans soldiers would wreck the house of anyone thought to be hiding grain or gold. Romans 13:6-7 is not a description of the Roman tax system.

When Paul wrote Romans 13, he was clearly not thinking about the Roman Empire. He must have been thinking about something quite different, so this passage cannot be used to demand submission to all political power.

Paul was actually reminding Christians that the system of Law and Local Judges that God have through Moses will provide true justice. In Romans 13:1 he said,

Do not be overcome by evil, but conquer evil with good. Every person should submit to the more excellent judges, because there is no legitimate judicial authority except under God. The judges that have emerged in a free society are arranged by God.
This was a reference to Deut 17:9.
You shall come to the judge that shall be in those days: and you shall inquire; and they will show you the sentence of judgment.
This is explained further in Understanding Romans 13.