Yes, I believe players should worry more about practice than gear. Mexican-made Stratocasters and other Standard Series Fender guitars are very good, and certainly, have what it takes to do the job for most players.
I think it is accurate to say that if you get an MIM Stratocaster you like and dedicate yourself to practicing the guitar, you’ll be just fine. You may never need to think about an American Fender, or any other guitar for that matter.
However, I would also say there are many valid reasons people love American Fenders. They’re beautiful instruments, they sound and play fantastic, and in many ways, they are subjectively better than MIM Fenders. Some would say they are objectively better in certain ways, and I can’t disagree with that either.
The point of my article isn’t to say one is good and one is bad. The point is that guitar players shouldn’t feel like they have to own a certain guitar to get anywhere, and unfortunately, that is often the impression they get. They feel like they must buy an American Strat, because nobody will take them seriously if they play an MIM.
I say hogwash. Buy what you like and can reasonably afford and then go practice.
If you want to buy an American Fender, go for it. They are amazing instruments, and you won’t regret it.
If it means you buy a Mexican Fender, don’t feel bad about it for an instant. They sound fantastic, and they do everything you need to do.
Heck, buy a Squier if you want to – they are good guitars for the money too. Then go practice. If anyone makes fun of your Squier, they’ll shut up when they hear you play.