I totally agree that it's not the clicker that is crucial, but "clicker training" has unfortunately ended up as the catch-all term for positive reinforcement methods.
What new dog owners (and anyone who deals with animals) SHOULD be taught, from the start, is the principles of operant conditioning.
There's no difference between traditional methods and "clicker training" except that one uses positive reinforcement and the other uses negative reinforcement (hopefully vs punishment).
Just pointing out to new pet owners that teaching their dog to sit by pushing down on its rump works because they STOP pushing down when the dog sits---that's a pretty simple concept that most people can understand. Teaching the owner to STOP popping the leash when the dog has a loose lead--and emphasizing that the dog is learning from the timing of the STOP, rather than from the popping itself, I think even new trainers can get it intellectually. Developing the timing is a skill, but if it's pointed out that the timing is the crucial part, not the popping, then the traditional training will be more effective.
But it's seldom overtly taught.
Negative reinforcement is a perfectly valid and effective method of training. When you see how much more motivation and commitment you get from positive reinforcement, you tend to want to stick with it, but sometimes it's frankly simpler to go with NR, ie pressure/release--with the proviso that you understand what you're doing.
On edit: actually I was wrong to say the ONLY difference between "clicker" and traditional training is PR vs NR. The addition of the marker is a significant difference and significant advantage of PR/clicker.